Letter: Buyer Beware: Snake Oil Salesman in the Neighborhood

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As an opponent to the legalization of marijuana I read with interest, “Know What You’re Getting: CBD, THC or Medical Marijuana” published in the March 1 issue of the Indy.

I agree with many of the remarks made by Dr. Gregory Smith, M.D., especially regarding the assumption that products containing THC or CBD bought from dispensaries are safe or actually contain what is advertised and that THC can become psychologically addictive and damage brain cells. But I stop agreeing (and question his motives) when he asserts that, “CBD is good for literally every illness” or that “CBD kills cancer cells with no detrimental effects to normal cells.” Because it is illegal to market or claim health benefits from CBD under both federal and state law, it seems unethical for a physician to claim health benefits from CBD.

The National Cancer Institute’s paper, The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research states: “There are no ongoing clinical trials of Cannabis as a treatment for cancer.”

According to National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2017, “Highly concentrated THC or cannabidiol (CBD) oil extracts are being illegally promoted as potential cancer cures…Because CBD is a potential inhibitor of certain cytochrome p450 enzymes, highly concentrated CBD oils could potentially increase toxicity or decrease the effectiveness of these therapies.” In other words, adding these substances to prescription medication could actually worsen or interfere with medically prescribed treatment.

I believe Dr. Smiths’s claims are influenced by the fact that he has created his own line of CBD products.

CBD-infused food, drink and dietary supplements cannot be sold by non-licensed retailers. According to a Nov. 4, 2018 LA Times article, consumers who purchase a CBD product from a non-licensed retailer in California are, in a sense, blindly trusting that its purity and THC levels are sound. But research shows that’s often not the case.  A 2017 University of Pennsylvania study found that up to 70 percent of CBD products sold online may actually be mislabeled. Out of 84 items surveyed, 18 had THC levels high enough to potentially cause impairment.

Like it or not, CA voters decriminalized recreational marijuana without sufficient human clinical studies to prove its efficacy. Make no mistake. Cannabis and CBD are the next big tobacco and those promoting it expect to make big money.

At least I can agree with the last statement made by Dr. Smith. Individuals with “real” medical problems should consult with their physician before using these substances. Buyer beware, there is a snake oil salesman in the neighborhood.

Deborah Schlesinger, Laguna Beach

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  1. It’s all about choice: don’t want CBD products? don’t believe in CBD products? Then don’t BUY them. Your opening sentence leads me to believe you are supported by Big Pharma, Big Tobacco and Big Naysayer’s. I will support this new local business……not CVS-who just announced they will be carrying CBD products nationwide. Yes, it is all about the benjamins. Choice, I side with choice.

  2. Well, Mr. Schraff III, I’ll wager you don’t side with the “choice” of owning pistols, rifles and lots of ammunition. You don’t think school “choice” is such a great idea, do you? No, “choice” is the euphemism for butchering innocent, unborn babies. It’s a Big Lie, not a “choice.” Norma McCorvey lied in her Roe v. Wade lawsuit when she claimed she was raped. Her court case should be overturned on the basis of perjured testimony. If you think “Big Pharma” is so terrible, don’t ever take any medicines made by them again, especially in a hospital you may need to enter.

  3. Mr. Schraff, I am merely a public health nurse, who volunteers for a not for profit that supports individuals who have been convicted of lifestyle crimes associated with substance use disorders. This article quoted physicians making unsupported health claims about hemp CBD. Consumers rely on advice made by physicians and I feel it is my duty when I can to educate the public about what I feel is a public health issue. I don’t agree with nor support physicians making medical claims about products (drugs) that have not been proven with conventional human trial studies. CBD made from hemp is currently not approved for any health benefits by the FDA. To make health claims about this substance is a violation of federal law. Its a free country and you can choose to buy and use whatever products you want but if you don’t believe me look it up yourself.

  4. Choice is a word that could be and is used for MANY different ……choices. I don’t choose to have a gun or choose to deny someone else what they want to do with their body: it is THEIR body. If I were female I would choose(choice again…) to use contraception. Reproductive rights a re a personal issue. Make your own choice, and what you choose is not law for another’s choice.

    If there is a choice to watch Netflix or HBO is there reason for John to believe it is a euphemism for abortion????

    I have choice to choose that the word ‘choice’ is not just relegated to a woman’s choice of her uterus and an unwanted pregnancy.

    Dear John, don’t get pregnant and you won’t have to worry!

    And Dear Public Health Nurse: Big Pharma owns the USA and Big Pharma has pushed through many pills that end in death or addiction. If you don’t believe me LOOK IT UP!

    And most of all: choice.


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