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Many tout CBD as a panacea for a variety of ailments, but what it is and how to use it remainÂ murky.
And withÂ the legal fight for recreational use of marijuana ongoing in Albany, New Yorkers may be looking to CBD as an alternative.
But is it legal for New Yorkers?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a type of cannabinoid, or chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another cannabinoid, it is not psychoactive. Unlike marijuana, CBD won’t get you high.
A number of products â€” oils, lotions, soaps and edible gummies â€” incorporate CBD, and it can be consumed via oral tinctures and vape cartridges.
With the passage of the Farm Bill in December 2018, which made hemp â€”Â a type of cannabis sativa plant with a THC concentration of .3 percent or less â€”Â legal in the United States, it is largely understood that CBD, extracted from hemp, also is legal across the country.
â€śNew York has maintained that CBD is legal,â€ť said attorney Nikolas Komyati, the head of the cannabis group at Bressler, Amery & Ross.
Under the Farm Bill, it also is legal to buy hemp-derived CBD online and ship it, said Jonathan Miller, the general counsel at the U.S. Hemp Roundtable.
That legal status applies to CBD products that have a THC concentration of .3 percent or less. SoÂ how do consumers trust that their favored product adheres to the standard?Â One of the biggest challenges the nascent industry faces is proving how CBD has been extracted, as the product isn’t regulated by any governmental entity.Â
IncreasedÂ interest in CBD-infused products, however, has spurred the Food and Drug Administration to schedule a hearing on May 31 to discuss regulation.
Though some bars restaurants in the city have put CBD-infused items on their menus, New York hasÂ banned selling food and drinks with CBD.
â€śThe Health Department is currently educating food service establishments and retailers that CBD is prohibited from being added to food and drink, and to stop offering these products,â€ť a notice on the NYC departmentâ€™s website says.
Beginning in October, the health department will issue violations to establishments offering food or drinks containing CBD, the notice says.
Once the FDA establishes a framework to regulate CBD products, New Yorkâ€™s positionÂ could change.
â€śWe think the ultimate outcome is that (the FDA is) going to permit CBD to be used as a dietary supplement or a food additive, but it will be regulated,â€ť Miller said. â€śOne possibility is that theyâ€™ll say that youâ€™re only allowed to use a certain number of milligrams of CBD in a particular product.â€ť
CBD products are sold in health-food stores and smoke shops, as well as online. CVS has started selling CBD products in some states, but not in New York.
CBD has been advertised as having a number of health and therapeutic benefits, but its effectiveness is still being researched.
â€śItâ€™s been investigated for treating all sorts of different conditions, from epilepsy to schizophrenia to arthritis to drug addiction to traumatic brain injury to Alzheimerâ€™s to anxiety to PTSD,â€ť said Dr. Esther Blessing, an assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health.
In â€śpreclinicalâ€ť studies, such as animal testing andÂ human laboratory tests, CBD has shown to have positive effects.
â€śItâ€™s shown really promising properties, but that doesnâ€™t necessarily mean it will definitely work in the actual final clinical trials,â€ť Blessing said.
For example, there havenâ€™t been any completed clinical trials on CBDâ€™s effect on anxiety, â€śbut there have been these human laboratory studies where people just experimentally induce anxiety â€¦ and then they measure whether just a single dose of CBD could reduce that anxiety,â€ť said Blessing, who is currently working on a clinical trial for CBDâ€™s effect on PTSD.
These studies have shown CBD reduces anxiety compared to a placebo, but â€śthatâ€™s not the same as saying that it would be effective if you gave it every day to a patient with anxiety,â€ť Blessing explained, describing the studies as â€śa kind of preliminary form of evidence.â€ť
Clinical trials have been completed on the chemicalâ€™s treatment of two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, and, as a result, the FDA approved a CBD prescription called Epidiolex.
If you are considering trying a CBD product, here are some factors to consider:
Be careful with drug-drug interactions
CBD can interact with other medications, and the results can be dangerous, Blessing said.
â€śIf you start taking CBD and youâ€™re on other medications, make sure you talk to your doctor about their potential interactions because they could be quite serious.”
Be wary of the level of CBD in a product
Companies may not be transparentÂ about how much CBD is in their products, or what the source of the CBD is.
â€śThereâ€™s all sorts of ways that businesses can approach this market and kind of take advantage of the consumerâ€™s lack of understanding,â€ť said Brian Baum, CEO of CANNOVIA, a company that aims to educate consumers and provide access to quality CBD products.
Even companies that are transparent likely donâ€™t adhere toÂ the same level of purity and standardization thatâ€™s being tested in clinical trials, Blessing said.
Baum encouraged consumers to look for a “certificate of analysis,” which is lab test done by a third party that shows the levels of CBD, THC and contaminants in a certain batch of CBD.
Consider what type of product you’re using
Different types of products have different potencies of CBD, which impacts how much you should use.
â€śOral forms of CBD have much less bioavailability compared with if you smoked CBD or took it sublingually under the tongue, or rub it into the skin,â€ť Blessing said.
â€śWhen you take CBD orally, just because of the properties of the substance, only a very small proportion of the drug that you take orally actually makes it into the bloodstream … because it gets metabolized by the liver,â€ť she said. â€śBut if you smoke CBD, then it doesnâ€™t get metabolized by the liver, so itâ€™s much more potent. It’s also “somewhat more potent” when rubbed into skin.
Understand the difference between CBD and hemp seed oils
While hemp seed oils can have health benefits, they do not contain CBD and donâ€™t have the same benefits CBD can have.
If consumers are searching for CBD oils online, they could get confused when hemp seed oils show up in the results, Baum said.
â€śIf youâ€™re a consumer and youâ€™ve just heardÂ from a friend or whatever that CBD did this for them, and then you go to Amazon (which does not sell CBD products) and search CBD oil, youâ€™re gonna receive a lot of results, but those results are gonna be hemp seed oil,â€ť he said.Â