Q. I have friends who are using cannabidiol (CBD) oil for pain relief. I thought it was marijuana, which is illegal in my state. They tell me that it is very helpful and they buy it at a local health food store. What is it and can it help without getting me arrested for having it?
CBD is one of many compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana. Researchers are looking at the potential therapeutic uses of CBD. Most of the CBD used medicinally is found in the least processed form of the plant, known as hemp, and does not produce the psychoactive “high” that most associate with smoking or eating marijuana. A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD oil significantly reduced chronic inflammation and pain in some mice and rats. This is very early research. These scientists are suggesting that non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana, such as CBD, could offer a new treatment for chronic pain. Remember, there is very little long-term research available. Many small-scale studies have found it to be well tolerated across a wide range of doses, with no significant central nervous system side effects. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD for the treatment of any condition. Also, it can be difficult to know whether a product contains a safe or effective level of CBD or whether the product has the properties and contents stated on its packaging and marketing.
As far as its current legality, any cannabis plant or product is legal for medical and recreational use in some, but not all, states. Other states approve CBD oil as a hemp product without approving the general use of medical marijuana. If you are considering using CBD, talk to your local health-care provider and the proprietor of your favorite health food store. It would not be sold off the shelf if it is illegal in your state.
Want to learn more about marijuana and pain relief? Read “Marijuana for Pain,” “Is Marijuana Medicine?” and “Study: Opioid Use Reduced With Medical Marijuana.”