CBD oil is cropping up everywhere. But is it safe? Is it beneficial? How does it work? Is it a placebo?
Tracy L. Miller's article from the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, reprinted July 8 in The Journal Gazette, was certainly very timely. As we all know, businesses are starting to sell CBD oil almost everywhere in the state of Indiana.
The door has been opened by Gov. Eric Holcomb, who signed a bill that was passed by the legislature regarding the sale of CBD oil. This bill effectively allows a low-THC (0.3%) product to be sold. It went into effect starting July 1. Both marijuana and CBD oil come from the same plant. This means that the governor and legislature have opened the door to legal marijuana.
The product has to have a scannable code or QR code naming the factory where it was made and the result of lab testing by an independent testing company. These testing companies are, however, picked by the company manufacturing the product. Is that really oversight? So, the company that makes the CBD oil and sells it can pick the testing company, not the FDA. And the company can switch from one lab to another at any time if it doesn't like the results.
Let's face it, the more THC a product has, the more likely people will enjoy it, because it gives them the same high as marijuana. That'll certainly relieve your pain. That could also result in addiction and guaranteed repeat customers. In Colorado, for instance, 20 percent of recreational marijuana users are repeat customers, because they're addicted.
Throughout the brain and body, we have the endocannabinoid system, which connects to cell receptors. In other words, it forms chemical messages. These messagers attach to CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are located throughout our brain, immune system, skin, and organs. These cannabinoid receptors are the second most common receptor in our body. And they are activated by the chemicals in marijuana, which includes CBD oils. So, marijuana, or CBD oil with low THC, can affect the brain, immune system, skin, or any other organ.
What makes this especially frightening is that children's brains are not fully developed till around age 25, and they are very sensitive to the effects of cigarettes, alcohol, and, yes, marijuana. The negative effects of marijuana use have been demonstrated with MRI scans and include actual holes punched into the brains of children, from which they never recover. The effects of alcohol can reverse somewhat after drinking ceases, but brain damage from marijuana does not.
Very little good scientific work has been done on CBD oil. There have been very few clinical trials using double-blind methods to prove the product's effectiveness. What we have been listening to about the benefits of both CBD oil and medical marijuana have largely been pure hype. Individual case reports – “It helped me,” “It helped a friend of mine,” or even Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN claiming he knows of a man whose back pain was cured – are not scientific studies.
The recent report that CBD oil is helping a few rare cases of uncontrollable seizures does, however, appear to have some science behind it, and the government approved a recent marijuana medication for it. That seems reasonable to me.
True research is necessary. The reason such studies are important is that some or all of the perceived benefits of CBD oil could be due to the placebo effect; in other words, you believe it and your neurotransmitters tell you “This works.” As long as you believe, it does. But any operation or pill can do that, and I don't think that is the sole effect of CBD or other marijuana plant products, because of the CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout our body.
The Colorado experience with legalization of marijuana has not been great. A Colorado senator has already admitted, “It was a mistake.” Addiction rates are up. Side effects are common. There are increased accidents, house explosions, unexpected strokes and heart attacks. Children are getting into the many products of CBD and marijuana, and there has been an invasion of out-of-state people coming to find the products. As a matter of fact, 44 percent of the sales are to those from out of state. The tax revenue from marijuana sales have been very disappointing, mainly because of the cost of law enforcement, medical complications, and the reduced reputation of the state.
What our Indiana government has done to us is essentially open the door for products that contain a substance that will cause a lot of damage to our children. This is sad. I wonder how much lobbying money was spent in this state to get the job done?
Lack of knowledge and greed on the part of lobbyists and sellers, as well as our politicians, has unfortunately led to a bad outcome. We the average citizens will need to get to work and do some reading and voting. Or we'll just go on expanding our nation of chemical addiction. Sugar, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, technology, gambling, etc. Where will it end?
Dr. Rudy Kachmann is a Fort Wayne physician.