Canada Still Leading the Way
Canada’s legalization of cannabis edibles went into effect on October 17, but likely will not be available on shelves until sometime in December. The legislative move prompted doctors to start weighing-in with their opinions and concerns on CBD health claims. CBD is a natural compound extracted from cannabis plants. CBD does not provide intoxicating effects like it’s botanical sister, THC, and is found in abundance in hemp plants.
Does medical science back up the claims about CBD benefits? CBD research is still in its infancy and there are currently two approved CBD-related FDA approved pharmaceutical drugs in North America. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex for addressing severe forms of epilepsy. Though it has not been approved by Health Canada, another purified CBD-based drug (also containing a combination of THC and CBD along with other bioactive chemicals) called Sativex, was approved as a treatment for addressing muscle-control disorders in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. While these are the only two approved medications, there are many unproven uses for CBD products based on anecdotal evidence from consumers.
CBD’s rapid acceptance by the general public is creating alarm among some doctors. It is one of the first times they have seen such a thing become commonplace before science and medical testing have been able to substantiate the claims. A statement given by Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, the study's author and a psychiatrist at McGill University's faculty of medicine in Montreal, sums up this issue.
Like other medical professionals, Dr. Gobbi constantly hears claims from her patients about how CBD provides health benefits, but there is still not enough information on the efficacy and safety of CBD products to calm doctors’ worries. Pharmaceutical companies and university research centers have launched research into determining how CBD works and how it can be safely used in medical patients. Gobbi continued by saying, “...only clinical trials in humans can show if CBD is really effective for an illness.”
A lack of issued regulatory standards throughout the industry is one of their most common concerns. Patients report varying degrees of effectiveness between different batches of CBD products. Furthermore, THC levels in CBD products can vary dramatically, which could trigger patients to fail a drug screening. Doctors recommend consuming CBD products cautiously and to consult with your physician to make sure there are no drug interaction concerns with other medications you are taking.
The hope is that the legalization of CBD oil and CBD edibles will accelerate research and that the clinical trials necessary will spread accepted news on all fronts about the efficacy of using CBD oil. But, until then, expect your doctor to be hesitant on recommending CBD treatments until clinical trials are completed.