What to Know
CBD is short for cannibidiol, one of the chemical compounds in the cannabis plant; unlike THC, it doesn't produce a mind-altering high
The DEA classifies all cannabis as an illegal “dangerous” drug but has taken a hands-off approach to over-the-counter CBD
The result: CBD is exploding in popularity in the health and wellness market with a dizzying array of products
Some are calling it a natural miracle drug for ailments ranging from joint pain to seizures and anxiety. Skeptics say it’s too early to “greenlight” CBD, known for its greenish hue. CBD is short for cannibidiol, one of the chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a mind-altering high.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies all cannabis as an illegal “dangerous” drug but has taken a hands-off approach where over-the-counter CBD is concerned.
The result: CBD is exploding in popularity in the health and wellness market, where smoke shops, health food stores, day spas and pharmacists are carrying a dizzying array of CBD products, everything from oils to salves to capsules and gummies.
“You’re not going to hallucinate, you’re not going to feel euphoria, you’re going to feel relief from your pain,” said Peggy Galant, who uses a CBD salve. The Tenafly, New Jersey, resident has chronic pain from multiple back surgeries and swears by CBD.
“I get severe muscle pain and nerve pain and this helps both,” she said.
Pharmacist Yaz Shah, who owns Hudson drugs in Cresskill, New Jersey, became sold on CBD after hearing testimonials from customers who tried products distributed by a company called Kannaway, headquartered in San Diego, California.
“I think it works wonderfully without the side effects of all these prescription drugs,” said Shah. He added, “I’ve seen cannabis used for seizure control, for anxiety, for stress, for arthritis and colitis.”
Mindy Lomasky uses a daily dose of CBD for her 12-year-old son, Jake, who has severe autism.
“He’s generally on the whole a bit calmer. I think it dials down his anxiety. He’s more focused,” Lomasky said.
She said she doesn’t understand the stigma some associate with CBD.
“I’d rather give my son something natural than something that’s big pharma,” Lomasky said. "I would never tell anybody that anything is a cure-all for autism. It’s just another tool in our arsenal that we can use, along with other therapies and school, and a healthy lifestyle.”
Michelle Steiner, a busy mother of four, said CBD oil has helped her with stress and alleviated her digestive problems.
“I would eat something and 2 seconds later, I’d be running,” she said. “That doesn’t happen any more.”
Englewood plastic surgeon Gil Altman said he began taking CBD several months ago for ulcerative colitis.
“After two months, I was just noticing a calmness coming over my abdomen,” he said. “The fact that I have less pain and less sensitivity to it. Why not use it?”
Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, a New York gastroenterologist, says there is a potential risk because the industry is unregulated. The FDA has only approved one prescription form of CBD, Epidiolex, for a specific form of childhood epilepsy.
“You’re not guaranteed that what’s in the bottle is what they say you’re getting, she said. "It might be a different dose, it might be different ingredients.”
The I-Team went undercover to sample store claims about CBD and found one clerk who said their products were produced by the University of Maryland.
“It’s their business development side and research side,” the salesman said. "There are very strict requirements because they’re affiliated with the university and they’re registered with the FDA.”
A University of Maryland spokesperson said those claims are all false. The FDA has warned several companies to stop making misleading claims about CBD products.
A number of reputable medical centers are doing research into the safety and effectiveness of CBD. One business report predicts the industry could hit $22 billion by 2022.