You’ve probably heard CBD alternately described as a miracle substance with the potential to cure all the world’s diseases and also bring peace to the entire universe, and as the thing that will lead to the downfall of the human race. Or maybe less groundbreaking/catastrophic predictions that somehow still seem to be blown way out of proportion.
If you haven’t heard anything about CBD, it’s probably because this is the first time you’ve been on the internet, ever. So for those who are not familiar with the buzz, cannabidiol (or CBD) is a cannabis derivative that’s widely used as both a health supplement and a food additive.
CBD is found in hemp and marijuana, and that pedigree has turned it into one of the most discussed and most misunderstood substances on the American market.
So, what is the real truth about CBD? Is it a wonder drug or a snake oil? Is it legal or illegal? And most importantly, should you feed it to your dog? Here are some of the most often-repeated myths about this mysterious substance.
Can CBD gets you high?
let’s just think about this one for a second. If CBD could get you high, is there any way on God’s green Earth that the federal government would allow it to be sold freely on the internet? That’s a hard “no.”
CBD Is Made from marijuana plants
When most people hear the word “cannabis,” they only think of one plant: marijuana. That’s because until recently, marijuana was the only version of cannabis anyone ever talked about. But marijuana is a part of a broad family of cannabis species, which also includes its more conservative cousin, hemp. According to The Motley Fool, marijuana and hemp both come from the cannabis sativa family, but they’re two very different plants. They don’t even look the same — marijuana is sort of squat and dumpy with wider leaves, while hemp is taller and stalkier and has shiny leaves.
The most abundant chemical compound found in marijuana is THC, which is the chemical that causes that characteristic high. Some marijuana varieties can have THC levels as high as 30%. Hemp has THC in it, too, but at much lesser levels — usually around .3%. So hemp has traditionally been used more for industrial applications, like making rope or fabrics sold exclusively to hippies at overpriced organic markets.
Both plants contain CBD, though, and you can obtain CBD oil derived from marijuana if you live in a state where marijuana is legal. But most of the CBD oils that are sold freely online or in specialty shops are derived from hemp, mostly because hemp-derived CBD isn’t subject to the same state-to-state restrictions.
CBD is regulated
Based on the whole “regulated by the Food and Drug Administration” thing, you’d think that CBD would be pretty tightly controlled. And in some ways it is. For example, the FDA explicitly prohibits CBD manufacturers from making health claims about their products. You can bottle and sell CBD oil with the intention of selling it as a pain reliever, but you don’t actually get to say, “This is a pain reliever.”
In other ways, CBD is weirdly really unregulated. According to The Atlantic, CBD “exists in a confusing state of quasi-legality,” so there aren’t any labeling requirements or composition standards for manufacturers. That means that when you buy a bottle of CBD oil, you don’t really know how much of what’s in that bottle is really CBD, nor do you really know what an effective dose might be for that particular product. Worse, some products sold as CBD oil, when tested, didn’t contain any CBD oil at all.
“It’s actually really hard to get pure CBD,” Esther Blessing, a CBD researcher from New York University Langone Health told the Atlantic. “It’s really expensive, and there’s a limited number of high-grade producers across the world.” And since the minimum effective dose is around 300 milligrams, consumers who don’t buy the right product will end up with a vial of something that really is snake oil, at least in the metaphorical sense of the word.
CBD is a legal food additive
Now that hemp is legal, it follows that CBD oil is legal, too. That means that bakeries, restaurants, and coffee shops are free to add it to their cookies, cocktails, and lattes without fear of legal consequences. But no! The FDA still controls what companies get to do with CBD, remember, so that shop that makes the awesome CBD cupcakes is probably not doing it legally.
According to The Atlantic, the FDA gets especially pouty when companies add CBD to food and drink, so much so that in some places they are cracking down on brownies and cupcakes, and definitely not eating any of that confiscated contraband. In New York City, the Department of Health maintains that because CBD has not been deemed “safe as a food additive,” no one gets to put it in food that’s offered for sale to the public. Restaurants caught selling CBD treats will have to pay a fine of up to $650. Which is a lot for the average cupcake eater, but you know, at $5 a cupcake that’s really only 130 cupcakes. Just as an aside.
Still, nothing is stopping you from baking your own delicious CBD treats, just so long as you’re not selling them at your kid’s bake sale or something.
CBD won’t show up on a drug test
CBD isn’t a marijuana product and it doesn’t contain THC, so you can use it to treat the lower back and foot pain you’re going to end up with after you’ve spent a whole day dropping off resumes around town. But according to Forbes, that’s a terrible idea, because if one of those companies loves your resume and decides to give you a pre-hire drug test, you might fail it just based on your choice of pain reliever.
Granted, the risk is pretty small, but there have been cases where CBD oil seemed to be responsible for a failed drug test. In one example, a woman in Atlanta Georgia was told that she’d failed a pre-employment drug screening even though she’d never been a marijuana user and had only used CBD oil for two weeks prior to the test.
Hemp doesn’t contain as much THC as marijuana does, but trace amounts can end up in any CBD oil. Now, THC in those minute quantities is unlikely to trigger a positive drug test result, but “unlikely” is hardly a 100% guarantee. So yes, there is a slight possibility you could lose your dream job if you take CBD. Your risk, of course, is directly proportional to how badly you wanted the job in the first place — if it’s flipping burgers or cleaning dog kennels, your chances of a positive result are probably pretty close to zero.
CBD is addictive
One of the weirdest myths about CBD oil is that it’s addictive, and once you start using it you’re married to that $120 bottle for the rest of your life. It’s a weird thing to say, because most CBD products don’t come from marijuana and what’s more, marijuana isn’t even addictive, at least not in the same way that heroin or alcohol are addictive.
Don’t misunderstand — people can develop a psychological dependence on marijuana, which does fit the clinical definition of addiction, but according to Psychology Today, people who abruptly stop using marijuana don’t develop the profound physical symptoms that people who abruptly quit opiates or alcohol will develop. Instead, marijuana users will experience things like a slightly elevated pulse, irritability, and substantially lower consumption of Doritos.
What’s addictive about marijuana is the high. That’s notably absent from CBD products, so CBD users don’t have to worry that their use of the product will become compulsive. As a plus, CBD users save on their monthly Doritos bill, so the benefits just keep on coming.
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