SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — With the legalization of adult-use marijuana in Massachusetts, you may have heard of a product derived from cannabis.
It’s sold both alongside more mainstream cannabis products and on it’s own in specialty shops across western Massachusetts.
It’s called CBD.
“A lot of people are older and there’s a lot of younger people too who just don’t want to get high, can’t get high because of their job. We get new people every day,” said David Mech with Potco.
Despite the name Potco, Mech doesn’t have a license to sell traditional marijuana. He’s okay with that for now as he’s selling CBD products with success.
“With CBD, you don’t get the high, but you get all the benefits of THC,” Mech explained.
CBD stands for cannibidiol – a cannabinoid – and it’s a chemical compound found in marijuana.
While some products can contain trace amounts of THC, CBD largely doesn’t have the psychoactive properties. Mech believes that’s the selling point for most people interested in trying cannabis products.
“CBD, the industry, is going to outgrow the marijuana industry over the next five years. It already is,” Mech added.
CBD is legal in Massachusetts, but federally, the laws are still unclear, which means the products are not regulated as strictly.
“It hasn’t had the stigma. I mean, until the past couple years, 90 percent of the country had never heard of CBD,” Mech explained.
Just because we haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean it hasn’t always been there.Â In fact, professors at Western New England University’s College of Pharmacy said your body naturally produces a chemical similar to CBD.
“So you have an endocannabinoid system that works naturally in your body. The cannabinoids that come from plants are phytocannabinoids. [What’s the difference between the cannabinoids we make in our bodies and the cannabinoids that can be found in plants?] So structurally they are very similar. The process that they start in the body is very similar,” said Arin Whitman, clinical assistant professor of hematology and oncology.
Whitman and Marissa Ostroff, clinical assistant professor of general ambulatory care, conducted a review to see how CBD interacts with chemotherapy drugs. They found studies that show CBD and chemo could need similar liver pathways to be processed in the body.
“Your body is only going to be able to handle so much of each. We don’t want the chemo to get pushed aside because the body is trying to metabolize the CBD. While they’re not on active chemotherapy, then it could be something that they could consider to try,” Whitman added.
However, because the negative side effects of chemo can persist long after the drug is processed, “I think cancer-related pain area is a big niche area for potentially thinking about the CBD,” Ostroff said.
Right now, the FDA is warning CBD manufacturers not to label their products in a way that suggests they can cure various illnesses, but Ostroff said word of mouth causes her patients to frequently ask about CBD.
“A lot of them don’t want to get high. We have the opioid crisis going on right now and if patients can find alternative therapies, they’re definitely looking to CBD,” Ostroff added.
What does a CBD product look like in the Bay State?
“You can smoke it just like a regular marijuana cigarette. Another way to take CBD is through an oil. You mix it with any kind of medium such as coconut oil, you can put this in your coffee, you can put it under your tongue, anyway you want to. [If 10 people come in here how many of them are going to present you with a medical problem and ask for help and ask for guidance?] Actually, it’s probably 10 people,” Mech noted.