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