Possessing cannabis is illegal, whatever you’re using it for. That includes medical use unless it has been prescribed for you.
If the above does not apply to you, do not ask a GP for a referral for medical cannabis.
Many cannabis-based products are available to buy online, but their quality and content is not known. They may be illegal and potentially dangerous.
Will the laws on cannabis be relaxed?
The main risks of THC cannabis products are:
Epidyolex is a highly purified liquid containing CBD (cannabidiol).
Many people having chemotherapy will have periods where they feel sick or vomit.
Nabiximols (Sativex) is a cannabis-based medicine that is sprayed into the mouth.
The biggest differences between tinctures, edibles, and vape pens are speed of delivery and how long the effects last. Vape relief is faster but wears off faster too—usually in about two hours, says Dr. Chin. "Say you wake up in the morning and pulled your back out, you might want to take CBD through a vape pen, which delivers in 10 minutes."
You can find CBD products in shopping malls, convenience stores, even coffee shops in many states right now. But when in doubt, natural grocers are a safe brick-and-mortar place to buy CBD, Beatty says. "Typically they have a vetting process that does some of the legwork for you."
These policies vary widely. Marijuana and CBD are currently fully legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C. In 23 states, it's legal in some form, such as for medicinal purposes. Another 14 states permit just CBD oil. But both are illegal in Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota. For more information, the organization Americans for Safe Access has a helpful guide to the specific laws in each state.
Speaking of which: Has it been third-party tested?
We don't mean the color or millennial font. If it's a dietary supplement, it should have a back panel with an FDA disclaimer and warning section, according to Beatty. "Ideally, it would be preferable to have access to their third-party lab testing results too."
There are two main types of pain, Dr. Danesh says: musculoskeletal and nerve. "There could be benefit for both conditions," he says.
"My practice has patients walking in every day asking about CBD," says Houman Danesh, MD, director of integrative pain management for the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. But while there's lots of anecdotal evidence, he says, "it's still very difficult to say" what the real benefits are due to a serious lack of research.
The tricky part is that there's some evidence suggesting CBD works best for pain when combined with a little THC, says Dr. Danesh. "Depending on what type of pain you have, you might be able to do just CBD, but sometimes you need CBD and THC." This makes accessing a product that will actually help you more difficult due to different regulations in each state. In New York, where Dr. Danesh practices, for example, CBD is available over the counter. But as soon as you add THC, you need a prescription.
Under the new law, state governments, not the federal government, would primarily regulate the hemp products.
Even with the Farm Bill provision, state or local governments can impose stricter limitations, Miller says. Right now, about 15 states have “pretty strong pro-hemp CBD statues. All the rest are vague or silent.”
And what about buying CBD products online, especially if you are in a state where CBD is not legal or is restricted? There are more unknowns than knowns.
What About CBD Products?
The list of states where medical or recreational use of marijuana and CBD is legal keeps growing. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., have passed medical marijuana laws (including 10 states and the nation’s capital where recreational and medical use is legal), says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Also, 14 states have enacted CBD-explicit medical laws.
CBD products are often marketed as anti-inflammatories and pain relievers that can also help with insomnia and anxiety. Some strains of CBD are popular with parents of children with severe epilepsy.
Within days of the Farm Bill becoming law, the FDA issued a statement saying any hemp-based CBD product that is marketed as having therapeutic benefits or as a dietary supplement is illegal to sell unless the FDA has reviewed and approved it. Opening the marketplace, it seems, also opened the products to regulatory oversight.
Even though, thanks to the Farm Bill, hemp lost its status as a Schedule I drug – one that has no proven medical purpose and potential for abuse – marijuana did not. That means even though many states have legalized its use, the federal government still considers marijuana and CBD products derived from marijuana in almost any form to be illegal. But so far, federal law enforcement officials have not used their power to swoop in and shut down marijuana operations in states that have legalized it.