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Reefer Madness Redux? FDA Using Scare Tactics About CBD

Posted by on February 6, 2020 in Healing & Natural Remedies, Health with 0 Comments

Not since the film Reefer Madness, a propaganda piece released in 1936 in which marijuana-addicted teenagers descend into madness and suicide, has there been such a level of misinformation around cannabis, and its non-psychoactive (and now legal) cousin CBD.

In an FDA Consumer Update, the government agency issues a “What you need to know” advisory focusing on CBD products, touting a handful of poorly-conducted studies which lacked peer review with inconclusive results as so-called evidence of their unsubstantiated claims. In the report, the FDA says that “CBD has the potential to harm you, and harm can happen even before you become aware of it.”

Let’s take on a two of the more serious claims the FDA puts forth in their advisory.

  • Liver injury. The FDA’s report says “CBD can cause liver injury.” While this claim does have some science to back it up, the FDA makes that statement out of context. Use of CBD, even on a regular basis, is not going to harm your liver. But like almost anything – alcohol, over-the-counter supplements or even ordinary acetaminophen – if you ingest it in extremely large quantities which nobody realistically ever does, the liver will suffer. In fact, the World Health Organization issued a report of its own, saying that CBD is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” and the National Institute on Drug Abuse calls CBD a “safe drug with no addictive effects.”
  • Male reproductive toxicity. The FDA report notes a study in laboratory animals which revealed some decrease in testicular size, inhibition of sperm growth and decreased circulating testosterone, but it’s important to note here that the FDA does not make any definitive conclusions – they only ask the leading question without offering an answer, “Does CBD cause male reproductive toxicity in humans, as has been reported in studies of animals?” In fact, the answer is almost surely a resounding “No.” Those studies were not peer reviewed, were inconclusive, tested only on cells derived from animals, and show no corresponding impact on humans.

In short, the FDA is promoting junk science to back up its very shaky claims.

The only thing that is useful and productive about the FDA report is the suggestion, which is accurate, that they have not yet issued any approval or evaluation of CBD products, other than Epidiolex, which is available only by prescription. FDA regulation isn’t necessary a bad thing, and it does accomplish a lot of useful things like keeping food products safe and ensuring that medical devices and biological products have been tested. The growing CBD industry, and CBD consumers, would benefit from mindful oversight to make sure CBD products are clearly and accurately labeled, and that labs are subject to testing to prevent tainted products from being sold to the public.

A consumer’s best approach to buying and using CBD is to obtain it from a reputable seller with a national reputation. Understand the difference between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate CBD. According to NugRepublic, one of the largest CBD resellers in the industry which offers a range of carefully selected CBD products, each have their relative benefits. While CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD and contains no THC at all, full-spectrum CBD contains all naturally-occurring compounds of the cannabis plant, including trace amounts of THC. Broad-spectrum CBD also contains all naturally-occurring compounds, but contains no THC. Understanding the level of THC (which must be below 0.3 percent for it to be legal) is an important consideration, and one may wish to use a product with no THC at all, especially when traveling; while others may opt for the full-spectrum variety, which may offer heightened therapeutic benefits. Even if CBD does contain the legal level of 0.3 percent of THC though, it is still not enough to be psychoactive.

Ordinary labeling, standardized manufacturing and oversight are common-sense measures that are applied to just about everything you put into or on your body, and CBD is no different. That should be the legitimate role of the FDA in regards to CBD, and not trying to perpetuate unproven stories which border on propaganda and are based on shaky and inconclusive studies.

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