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CBD is becoming more readily available, but what do we know about it?

CBD is being sold in many stores, online and even at festivals. Some doctors are questioning the research while others say it's helping patients.
Credit: 9News
As CBD becomes more widely available, some doctors are questioning the research behind it. While others in the CBD industry say its safe to use and is showing real benefits for some patients.

DENVER — CBD products are easy to find these days.

They're sold in many Walgreens and CVS stores now. You can buy it online and see booths for CBD at festivals.

The TSA also recently changed its rules, allowing passengers to bring certain CBD products on flights with them, writing specifically online:

“Products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the FDA are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018.”

So what is it? CBD, or cannabidiol, is an ingredient found in marijuana and hemp plants. Unlike THC, which is also found in marijuana plants, it's not commonly thought to make users high. Under federal law, however, CBD is allowed to have trace amounts of THC, up to .3%.

However, some doctors are worried that there’s not enough research about its benefits.

“You are rolling the dice when you take it,” said 9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. Comilla Sasson.

So far the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved CBD to be used as a treatment for specific types of epilepsy. Beyond that, Dr. Sasson said it’s not well-studied and the studies that are being conducted are very small.

Some users claim CBD has therapeutic benefits, but Dr. Sasson said that because CBD is often sold as a supplement, it’s not subject to the same government regulations as pharmaceutical medications.

LINK: FDA's FAQs on cannabis and cannabis products

“What a lot of people don't know is that there is no one going back and saying, show me how it's effective, show me this is effective for your anxiety," Dr. Sasson said.

But Dr. Eric Dorninger sees it differently. Dr. Dorninger is a naturopathic doctor working with Blue Sky CBD, a Colorado company that sells CBD products. He said he's heard from several patients who say CBD has helped them. 

“We’ll use it for things like migraines. We’ll use it for things like rheumatoid arthritis,” he said.

Dr. Dorninger said it’s more than just anecdotes. 

“What our medical doctor brothers and sisters want, they want the human research,” said Dr. Dorninger. “I pulled up nine research studies on anxiety.”

Dr. Dorninger acknowledged many studies are small but also said that’s how studies start. He and his colleagues are also still hungry to learn more, which includes finding out more about dosages.

“It’s time for doctors to take over the work,” said Dr. Dorninger.” We are in a point where patients are teaching us.” 

Both Dr. Dorninger and Dr. Sasson agree paying attention to labels is important. 

Blue Sky works to make sure their products are THC free and each product has a batch number that people go online to see the certificate of analysis.

“I’ve had patients who have come in and [they] say my neighbor makes CBD oil," said Dr. Dorninger. 

Dr. Sasson cautioned that sometimes people may not know what’s in the CBD product itself.

Because of that, Dr. Dorninger has a checklist for what people should keep in mind before purchasing CBD:

  • Check for purity and potency as well as third-party certification
  • Check to see if the product is independently tested
  • Check for any extra ingredients
  • Check the price point
  • And check where the original plants were grown and where the CBD is made




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