KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a new warning to consumers on the potential dangers of CBD, or Cannabidiol, products.
“We remain concerned that some people wrongly think that CBD products have been evaluated by the FDA and determined to be safe, or that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt,'" FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said.
Despite the updated assessment on the risks of CBD, the cannabis-derived compound continues to surge in popularity.
“I stand in this store every single day, and I have people that come in here, and they tell me how CBD is changing their lives,” said Matt Cascio at Hemp Haven in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District.
Cascio, who worked for decades as a registered nurse at oncology clinics throughout the region, is urging the medical industry to fast-track research in the United States.
He said he's dealt with bouts of depression. But he ditched his prescription medication in favor of CBD products.
“Now, I’m just a happy person,” Cascio said. “I don’t have to take so many milligrams of a drug that causes me to feel like a zombie.”
Local advocates for CBD products insist it’s been a miracle drug for people, for conditions ranging from anxiety to Parkinson’s Disease.
Local doctors, however, agree with the position of the FDA concerning CBD products: what you don’t know could hurt you.
“It’s a wild, wild west of 'I hope they’re telling me the truth,'" said Dr. Stephen Thornton at the University of Kansas Health System. "'I hope they’re not putting something in there that’s not supposed to be in there. But they very well could.'"
Thornton, who also serves as the medical director for the Kansas Poison Control Center, doesn’t see an urgent public health risk, similar to the vaping crisis, with CBD oil.
“We have had cases where kids have gotten into CBD oil and done fine, they don’t seem to get really sick,” Thornton said. “I think it’s a safe product. I just don’t know that it does what it’s supposed to do or what they say it does.”
Danielle Friedrich, the owner of Hemp Haven in Kansas City, disagrees.
“Cannabis is changing people’s lives all over,” Friedrich said. “People are moving to Denver, Colorado, for cannabis. People are moving to California to get cannabis. If that’s the case, that this was a placebo effect — it wouldn’t be changing people’s lives.”
Friedrich does agree with the medical community on one aspect of CBD’s popularity: the unregulated nature of the burgeoning business can be detrimental to the uniformity of the products available to the public.
“I definitely think it’s a downfall of our industry that it’s selling in gas stations,” Friedrich said.
CBD is often conflated with marijuana. CBD oil is a cannabis cousin, derived from the Hemp plant, usually with only a miniscule amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot that gets people high.
But because the marketplace for CBD is so flooded, and unregulated, it’s possible someone could ingest CBD and still fail a drug test.
“That’s a big deal,” Friedrich said. “That’s why you need to get educated and know where you’re getting your product from.”