Whereas marijuana contains both THC and CBD, hemp contains almost exclusively CBD — THC occurs only in very trace amounts. Remember, though, that there are many varieties of marijuana and hemp plants, and their concentrations of THC and CBD vary. Those with high THC are used primarily for recreational use; plants with low or no THC and high CBD are best for medicinal use. Only cannabis with less than 0.3% THC can be legally classified as hemp.
CBD, often ingested in oils, tinctures, and the occasional gummy bear, is really just a form of hemp- or marijuana-derived oil. It contains no psychoactive properties (so you don't feel high), but there are growing studies showing CBD's positive effects on anxiety, pain, and epilepsy in children. While CBD is totally legal, what are you supposed to do if you're asked to take a drug screening? Will CBD show up on a drug test? Can you get fired for using CBD? I spoke to some experts to get some clarification on how CBD oil could potentially affect your test scores.
CBD shows promise in the treatment of anxiety disorders, according to a report published in the journal Neurotherapeutics in 2015. Looking at results from experimental research, clinical trials, and epidemiological studies, the report’s authors found evidence that CBD may help treat generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the authors caution that human-based research on CBD and anxiety is fairly limited at this point.
A CNN program that featured Charlotte's Web cannabis in 2013 brought increased attention to the use of CBD in the treatment of seizure disorders. Since then, 16 states have passed laws to allow the use of CBD products with a doctor's recommendation (instead of a prescription) for treatment of certain medical conditions. This is in addition to the 30 states that have passed comprehensive medical cannabis laws, which allow for the use of cannabis products with no restrictions on THC content. Of these 30 states, eight have legalized the use and sale of cannabis products without requirement for a doctor's recommendation.
However, Warner warned against using CBD to enhance a meditation experience. “To me, one of the great benefits of meditation is how it can enable a person to discover their own innate ability to not react to stress in a habitual way,” he explained. “That skill takes time and effort to develop. But it’s very rewarding because it’s something you can call upon any time, any place, regardless of whether there’s a source of CBD (or Chamomile tea) nearby. CBD-enhanced meditation would never allow you to find that innate ability. By adding CBD to the meditation, you’re taking away one of the greatest and most useful aspects of meditation.”
Years passed, and more studies rolled out with medically beneficial findings regarding cannabis until 2009 when Steep Hill Laboratory in Oakland, California, tested cannabis samples provided by Harborside Health Center to discover that a handful of cultivars contained more CBD than THC. This discovery kicked other labs into gear. They wanted to study medical cannabis to understand and potentially calibrate their cannabinoid ratios. Soon thereafter, laboratories uncovered CBD-dominant strains boasting 20:1 CBD to THC ratios, which opened up the cannabis market for a panoply of CBD products.
In September 2018, following its approval by the FDA for rare types of childhood epilepsy, Epidiolex was rescheduled (by the Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule V drug to allow for its prescription use. This change applies only to FDA-approved products containing no more than 0.1 percent THC. This allows GW Pharmaceuticals to sell Epidiolex, but it does not apply broadly and all other CBD-containing products remain Schedule I drugs. Epidiolex still requires rescheduling in some states before it can be prescribed in those states.
In the past several years however, public interest in CBD has skyrocketed based on claims — largely unsubstantiated through good clinical research thus far — that it may be a kind of cure-all miracle drug, with therapeutic effects ranging from pain relief to eradicating cancer. In fact, while CBD research has been limited due to federal restrictions, preliminary evidence does suggest that it might help with psychiatric conditions like anxiety disorders (note that while many people claim that CBD is not “psychoactive,” it’s potential as an anxiolytic medication suggests otherwise) and recent randomized, controlled clinical trials suggest a possible role in the treatment of psychotic disorders.2,3 In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, a form of CBD manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, for the treatment of rare forms of pediatric epilepsy (see my blogpost "Cannabis for Kids: Can Marijuana Treat Childhood Seizures?").
I have dealt with overall muscle pain for several years and was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia 6 months ago. Due to stomach issues, I am no longer able to take NSAIDs, and I don’t want to start down the opioid trail, so I’ve been pretty miserable. Most days I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, and by the end of a work day, I was done. Many evenings I had to use a foam roller on my neck, back, and legs before I could even think of going to bed, and just trying to sit and relax was sometimes impossible. My husband did a lot of research on CBD oil, and Medterra seemed to be a solid company with a good following. He got me a bottle of the 1,000mg tincture, and I “front-loaded” with two doses a day for the first 5 days, then went down to one 1ml dose each morning. Even though we were on a lake vacation and I was climbing in and out of the boat and bouncing around the lake, I noticed that the pain and achiness in my arms and legs was gone within the first couple of days. After a couple more days, I realized that the pain and tightness in my upper back/neck were nearly gone as well. I’m starting to get my “old” energy back, and I can focus on doing what I want to do without the pain constantly interfering. My next order will be for the 3,000mg tincture... I want to play with the dosing a bit and see if I can get some relief with lower back pain (unrelated to the fibro). If you’re dealing with muscle pain, I highly recommend giving Medterra CBD oil a try.
Could cannabidiol help prevent tumors and other cancers before they grow? A 2012 study showed that animals treated with CBD were significantly less likely to develop colon cancer after being induced with carcinogens in a laboratory. Several studies had already shown that THC prevents tumors and reduces them, including one in 1996 on animal models that found that it decreased the incidence of both benign and hepatic adenoma tumors. In 2015, scientists analyzed the medical records of over eighty-four thousand male patients in California and found that those who used cannabis, but not tobacco, had a rate of bladder cancer that was 45 percent below the norm. Topical products can be used to treat and prevent skin cancers. Continuing research is focused on the best ratio of CBD to THC and the most effective dose level in cancer prevention and treatment.