EDITORIAL: Buyer Beware: CBD oil is now legal, but more studies, regulation are needed | Editorials

Gov. Greg Abbott late Monday signed into law House Bill 1325, which legalizes the production of industrial hemp in the state, as well as hemp-derived extracts that don’t contain a THC concentration of more than .3%, like the CBD oil that has been sold illegally for some time now everywhere from local vape shops to local hair salons to local doctors’ offices.

We threw our support behind the bill in an editorial we wrote back in April, mainly because we support anything that’s good for business in Texas and we believe hemp will be a great crop option for our farmers and ranchers.

Cherokee Hemp Company, which is positioning itself as “the first processing facility for Texas’ emerging hemp market,” is setting up shop in Cherokee County. Company officials plan to be able to process 10,000 acres of hemp by 2022, according to a press release.

The facility will be located on 40 acres in rural East Texas, bringing much-needed jobs into the area for processing Texas’ newest cash crop.

Prior to the passage of HB 1325, CBD — a non-intoxicating cannabis compound — was illegal in Texas, except for those suffering from intractable epilepsy who have a prescription to purchase it. Another bill in the Legislature, HB 3703, would expand the list of medical conditions for which a prescription would be available. Abbott has until Sunday to sign or veto that bill before it becomes law without his signature.

We’re hopeful that CBD oil will be as effective as claims have purported it to be. In fact, some members of our editorial board are eager to try it, anticipating that the competition that’s sure to come now that it’s legal will drive down the ridiculous prices for which it’s currently being sold.

But while we’re hopeful, we remain cautiously skeptical, as there’s little evidence to back such touted benefits as easing anxiety, inflammation or sleeplessness. In fact, treating epilepsy is the only purported use for CBD that has significant scientific evidence supporting it. For the rest of CBD’s potential uses, too little evidence exists to make a firm conclusion, as most of the studies have been conducted on animals and the few that haven’t have been case reports or studies that didn’t compare results against a control group.

Concerns also have been raised about the quality of CBD oil being produced, its potential side effects and its interactions with other medications.

“It really is the Wild West,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, adjunct assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in a HealthDay article. “Joe Bob who starts up a CBD company could say whatever the hell he wants on a label and sell it to people.”

That’s certainly been true here in Texas, and with regulations still months away, consumers should continue to proceed with caution. In a test conducted by an NBC station in Miami, 20 out of 35 products contained less than half the amount of CBD advertised on the label. And just last month, Houston police reported testing CBD products and discovering illegal synthetic cannabinoids, according to a Houston Chronicle article.

That’s why we’re so baffled that some of our local doctors have been recommending and even selling it to their patients — especially when it wasn’t legal. And while we don’t hold regular vendors to the same standards as we do our doctors, the many anxiety-ridden Facebook responses to our Sunday story about the fact that CBD wasn’t yet legal — the majority of which came from people who sell it — weren’t exactly a ringing endorsement of CBD’s effectiveness in reducing anxiety.

The bottom line is that CBD could be an option for managing certain medical conditions, including neuropathic pain, cancer-related symptoms, acne, heart disease and depression. But we need more research, human studies and some form of regulation before we can truly pinpoint its effectiveness.

Only time will tell if CDB is a panacea for all that ails us or this century’s snake oil. But until medical science can back up the claims, legal or not, it’s still “buyer beware.”

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