Just a few days ago, Indiana’s Attorney General Curtis Hill declared CBD oil illegal in the state of Indiana. Local press wrote: “Cannabidiol hemp oil, or CBD oil, is used by families of children with seizures and by others who deal with chronic pain and anxiety. It was officially listed as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration in December 2016, but there was confusion in the state of Indiana as to whether or not it was exempted by another law.”
Local press reported that Republican Senators James Tomes and Blake Doriot responded to Hill’s ruling by introducing a bill to Indiana legislature allowing the use of hemp oil for children with epilepsy. While this may be provide relief for some, the diverse uses for CBD oil in addition to epilepsy and the fact that it is not psychoactive raises serious questions regarding the validity of its classification as a schedule 1 substance along with Ecstacy, LSD and heroin.
Press reports on the matter also indicated that Hill’s decision contradicts a 2014 industrial hemp law that Indiana State Police and CBD advocates say legalized the substance as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that gives users their “high.”.
CBD oil has been the subject of both increased interest and much confusion over recent months, as it is both legal in many states but banned at a federal level. CBD is a compound found in the cannabis (both marijuana and hemp) plant and is often sourced from Hemp, but it is not psychoactive and does not give users any high, unlike the familiar psychoactive compound in marijuana, THC. CBD has been cited as useful in treating everything from chronic severe pain, to seizures, to emotional and mental issues including anxiety and insomnia.
In the case of epilepsy alone, NBC wrote that CBD decreased seizures in patients with a severe variety of the condition for which there is no current treatment. NBC described the results: “Seizure frequency dropped in the cannabidiol-treated group by 39 percent from nearly 12 convulsive seizures per month before the study to about six; three patients’ seizures stopped entirely,” the team wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine...Quite remarkably, 5 percent of the children in the active treatment group with CBD were completely seizure free during the 14 weeks of the trial. And these were kids who were often having dozens of seizures, if not many more than that per week.”
Local Indiana press also described one family’s experience with CBD: “Brian Bennett, whose 8-year-old son was diagnosed with epilepsy… was having up to 200 seizures a day. Bennett said his son had to wear a helmet, because he would fall and hit his head. He broke 24 of those helmets, until his parents discovered CBD oil.”
Today described CBD’s virtually universal appeal: “Research has shown CBD may be helpful by lessening anxiety for people who have schizophrenia or psychosis, or who are addicted to opiates. There’s also evidence it can help children who suffer from epilepsy. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD could even help treat acne.”
The potential for CBD to aid addiction is an especially important point regarding the opiate addiction epidemic that has swept the country in recent years. That CBD might provide a glimmer of hope for both addicts and chronic pain patients who face increasing difficulty in receiving proper treatment and have turned to street drugs to cope should spur scientists to further investigate the potential of CBD. CNBC reports that the opioid crisis has cost over $500 billion, leading President Trump to declaring opioid abuse a national public health emergency.
While the opioid epidemic has received significant press coverage from both legacy and independent media, press attention has been notably quiet on the potential impact a substance like CBD could have in a health care crisis that has already claimed thousands of lives and shows few signs of abating.
As CBD has seen a sharp increase in popularity, it is no surprise that pharmaceutical interests would act against a natural compound that might run contrary to the profit earned by patented chemical treatments for the various ailments CBD could potentially treat.
Indiana’s controversial CBD oil ruling comes less than a month after the FDA published a warning to CBD oil producers. The FDA’s statement read in part: “Cannabidiol (CBD), a component of the marijuana plant… is not FDA approved in any drug product for any indication. CBD is marketed in a variety of product types, such as oil drops, capsules, syrups, teas, and topical lotions and creams. The companies receiving warning letters distributed the products with unsubstantiated claims regarding preventing, reversing or curing cancer; killing/inhibiting cancer cells or tumors; or other similar anti-cancer claims.”
Given the FDA’s ties to pharmaceutical interests, it is unsurprising that the organization would attempt to crack down on a substance that has the potential to provide relief across a wide array of illnesses.
Despite the confusing legal issues surrounding the substance, Fox reports that states including Oklahoma have seen a significant increase in CBD oil use for ailments including anxiety, PTSD, seizures, diabetic neuropathy and chronic pain. The UK is also reported to have doubled its use of CBD oil in recent years.
Despite the legal grey area in which CBD oil falls, CBD oil is reputed to have become a lucrative industry as its popularity has soared. The industry surrounding the compound has already generated tens of millions of dollars, which is expected to increase significantly.
However, with increasing profit margins on the horizon, the danger of fraudulent, unscrupulous companies taking advantage of customers and selling oil that does not contain the amount of CBD that is advertised. Increasing concerns surrounding the responsible production of CBD oil has fueled calls for the compound to be regulated responsibly rather than remaining an unfairly labeled a schedule 1 substance.
Although studies regarding cannabinoids, including CBD oil, for its use in chronic pain have shown promising results, more study of the substance is necessary if there is to be a chance of seeing CBD removed from Schedule 1 drug classification. CBD is caught in a heartbreaking catch 22, between a need for further understanding of its potential benefits in order to alter the schedule 1 classification and the difficulty that scientists and doctors often face in sourcing CBD for research due to this same schedule 1 status.