Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil in Pharmacy

At the end of March 2019, CVS and Walgreens announced that they will start selling over the counter topical products containing CBD in specific states only, due to the legalization of CBD in those states. Cannabidiol, better known by the abbreviation CBD, is one of the most talked about ingredients today. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound or cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, is also found in the cannabis plant and responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana. Since CBD is non-psychoactive, it will not give the euphoric “high” that THC exhibits.

CBD can be extracted from marijuana or hemp. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is defined as a THC less than 0.3% and is considered legal by the federal government. However, some states include CBD under the definition of marijuana. In these states, CBD may be illegal or considered medical marijuana, limiting its distribution and sales. There is only one FDA approved CBD containing product, Epidiolex, for the treatment of seizures in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome who are at least 2 years old. While Epidiolex is the only agent FDA approved, there are many CBD containing products in the marketplace. There are a wide variety of proposed uses for CBD oil including anxiety, arthritis, cancer pain, acne, Alzheimer’s, and smoking cessation. Trials for nearly 100 different indications are currently taking place.

An overwhelming amount of companies are producing CBD containing products, so knowing how to select a quality product is essential in the market today. Some factors to consider include extraction technique, where the hemp was grown, third-party testing with published lab results, and price. Companies that provide products grown in the USA, extracted by carbon dioxide, and include published testing results should be better quality products. Popular forms of CBD oil include oral capsules, tinctures for sublingual use, lotions, ointments, and vape pens. If ingesting CBD, some common side effects include dry mouth, diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, weight loss, somnolence, drowsiness, fatigue, and elevated liver enzymes. There are drug-drug interactions and drug- herbal interactions if taking CBD oil orally.  Knowing about the product and its possible interactions is important for safe use. Patients should talk to a health care professional if considering using CBD products to determine safety.

Of note: The FDA is sending warning letters to companies that claim any of their CBD products are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. While there are proposed benefits, CBD only has the legally approved use for the treatment of seizures in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.  FDA does not support CBD as a dietary supplement.

Below depicts a map of medical marijuana use by state:




Posted: June 2019

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