Even as we witness the unrelenting growth of the hemp and cannabis markets across the U.S., most legal aspects of the industry continue to be shrouded in veritable shades of gray. Federal lawmakers remain stubborn in removing cannabidiol (CBD) from the DEA’s list of Controlled Substances, even though the compound has recently been approved by the FDA to treat two rare forms of epilepsy.
The reason so many people are interested in cannabis products that don’t make them high, proponents say, is that CBD helps with everything from pain and nausea to rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and dementia. CBD is anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antibacterial, immunosuppressive, and more, says Joseph Cohen, DO, a cannabis doctor in Boulder, CO.
Marijuana is a term for cannabis plants that are used recreationally and medicinally, and typically have a naturally high THC content. Although marijuana is illegal in the U.S. at the federal level, 8 states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Washington – allow for recreational marijuana use, meaning that you do not need a prescription to buy marijuana or CBD products.
But because all these products are illegal according to the federal government, cannabis advocates are cautious. “By and large, the federal government is looking the other way,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the Washington, DC–based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), but until federal laws are changed, “this administration or a future one could crack down on people who produce, manufacture, or use CBD, and the law would be on its side.”
This is likely why CBD is capable of stimulating appetite among people that are in dire need of nutrition (such as cancer patients on chemotherapy), while at the same time suppressing appetite in those who need to lose weight. The active compound helps keep the body in balance, so if you need weight gain it can help you eat, but if you are overweight, it may be able to help curb your desire to chow down.
The FDA also issued a warning to these companies in 2015 for making false claims of effectiveness and medicinal benefits. “Your products are not generally recognized as safe and effective,” the letter read. “Additionally, your product is offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners.”