At the start of the year, reports showed more than 10 states including Washington, D.C. made recreational marijuana use legal, and at least 20 states have legalized the drug from medicinal use.
Virginia doesn’t yet fall into either of those categories so the recent sprouting of cannabidiol dispensaries or CBD products stocked in local retail stores has some residents either worried or excited, but mostly…a little confused.
Lisa Genakos is a spokeswoman for Williamsburg Drug Company, a local fixture since 1895 and one of the largest CBD oil retailers in the state.
Genakos said one thing’s for sure about using CBD products: it’ll never get you high.
Here are five more things you should know about CBD oil:
1. They’re not the same — While both CBD and marijuana come from the cannabis family of plants, CBD comes from the hemp plant which can look very similar to the specific plant weed is derived.
Genakos said the hemp plant produces very low levels of THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets you high, which is why you’ll often see hemp-based body products in beauty aisles.
“In marijuana, the plant is grown so that THC levels will be high and with hemp…there’s specific things that they do to make sure the THC stays under the federal guideline which is 0.03 percent,” she said.
2. Buyer beware — Because CBD is not regulated by any authority, Genakos said CBD oil producers are under no obligation to prove what’s actually in their product and the quality can vary, “so you want something that’s always third-party tested.”
“I can tell you that there are 40-milligrams in my product when there isn’t and there’s not going to be any governmental body [to enforce it],” she said.
Genakos advised customers to always talk to their doctor or pharmacist when they have questions and should first research a manufacturer’s Certificate of Analysis before jumping at any CBD product they see in stores.
A COA could help better ensure quality but also that there are no pesticides or heavy metals in the product you’re buying.
3. No smoking — Unlike marijuana, CBD cannot be legally sold if it has been added to food and is typically sold in oil form. Williamsburg Drug Company carries CBD tinctures to be dropped under the tongue, soft gel tablets, and topical salves, lotions, and roll-ons.
4. The FDA believes in it — In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidolex, a prescription-strength CBD solution, for use in patients 2 years old and up who suffer from two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, either Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
“This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies. And, the FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
However, limited studies and data can’t attest to long-term use side effects or how it can affect other medical conditions.
5. People see results — Genakos said among the store’s customers who bought more than $1 million worth of CBD products in 2018, more than 90 percent have declared the medicinal plant oil has worked for them to ease ailments spanning from anxiety to eczema and general pain.
TW Taylor is the owner and lead pharmacists at the Williamsburg Drug Company who Genakos said travels the state and country to educate others.