What Parents Should Know About CBD

    THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most well-known component of marijuana, and it is the one associated with a “high.” However, another major component, CBD, is now becoming more and more available, and, like vaping, it is often marketed to young people. As a family member, you may wonder if it’s safe and if it works.

    Here is what we know – and don’t know – about CBD.

    What is CBD?

    CBD, short for cannabidiol, is the largest non-psychoactive component of marijuana. It is primarily derived from the hemp plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high.

    Interest in CBD has increased because of its potential to produce medical benefits such as anxiety relief and sleep aid – without the high. It’s seen as a potential medicine without the side effects typically associated with marijuana, particularly as pain relief for cancer, serious chronic pain and epilepsy.

    CBD can be found in numerous forms, including oils, vaping liquid, edibles, tinctures and capsules. There are also many CBD-infused items available such as lotions, shampoos, lip balms and drinks. Thousands of online companies and physical stores market CBD, which is estimated to grow to a $56.3 billion market by 2028.

    Is CBD legal?

    In short, it depends on the makeup of the CBD product. CBD products are federally legal if they have less than 0.3% CBD. However, states are permitted to make their own rules about access.

    Some CBD products are illegal, while others can be purchased in supermarkets and health stores by anyone. It’s best to check your state laws regarding CBD legality.

    Despite the wide availability of CBD, there is very little Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight of CBD products. The FDA has not approved any CBD-based human or animal products except for one: Epidolex, which provides patients with a concentrated dose of CBD to treat seizures in rare forms of epilepsy. This means that all other CBD products intended for medical use are considered unapproved drugs and are illegal to sell.

    Is CBD safe to use?

    Research on the safety of CBD is varied and ongoing. People use CBD with the intent to treat symptoms, such as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, acne and insomnia. While there is some research to support the use of CBD for these health issues, it is still limited. Much information about CBD benefits is based on individual user experiences as compared to research. It may also be based upon unreliable sources.

    When considering the safety of CBD, it is important to know that there are important differences between CBD studied in labs for medical conditions like epilepsy and CBD products that are sold to consumers for well-being. CBD products are mostly unregulated, so people who use CBD have to rely on the quality assurances of the companies that manufacture and sell them. Because of this, it’s hard to know what is in CBD products and their level of CBD concentration.

    Research and testing show that CBD labels often offer inaccurate information about its contents. For example, products claiming to have no THC could contain trace amounts of it, and there could be less CBD in the product than advertised. So, if someone used CBD and was then screened for drugs, they may test positive if the product they consumed unknowingly contained THC. Additionally, because there is a lack of FDA oversight for CBD products, some companies may make health claims that have not been approved. CBD does not appear to be dangerous for short-term use, but there is a lack of scientific research on CBD and little understanding of its long-term effects.

    Does CBD affect other medications?

    Side effects from CBD alone are minor (dry mouth, dizziness, nausea), but CBD products can interact with other medications and cause more serious effects. CBD does not mix well with some medications. It can block the way the body processes them as a result of interactions with liver enzymes.

    Steroids, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, immune modulators, benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin, Valium), antibiotics, anesthetics, antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-epileptics and beta blockers could all potentially cause an adverse reaction when taken with CBD. Side effects can include:

    • Sleepiness and fatigue
    • Appetite changes
    • Accidental falls and accidents caused by disorientation
    • Diarrhea

    In rare but serious cases, damage to the liver can occur when CBD is used. As a result, it is best to consult with your healthcare provider about using CBD, particularly if you are on other medications.

    Can CBD be used to treat opioid use disorder?

    Research on the health benefits of CBD has included studies on its potential ability to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). Neurobiologist Yasmin Hurd is studying CBD and OUD. She has proposed that CBD can help alleviate opioid cravings, as it is nonaddictive. Results published in 2019 found that CBD reduced cravings and anxiety in individuals struggling with heroin use. Researchers are now testing its effectiveness on a larger scale.

    More research is required to establish CBD as an effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Until then, consult with your healthcare provider about treatment.

    Read more here for information on available substance use treatment.

    Last Updated

    September 2023