Editor's Note

CBD's Quest for Market, Legal & Medical Legitimization

CBD represents a solid market opportunity for DME pharmacies, but work needs to be done. Fortunately, we're getting there.

We’ve all watched the ongoing push to legalize marijuana play out for several years now, but while much of the consumer news has focused its attention on the portion of the market devoted to recreational use of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there’s an equally important market for the other cannabinoid cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD.

Many consumers have come to experience and evangelize the benefits of using CBD oils, lotions and pills to treat chronic pain, insomnia and anxiety. I have personally found it beneficial to treat ongoing pain from a shoulder injury I suffered as a teenager. In my personal experience, it works and I’m grateful for it — a lifelong pain issue no longer interrupts my sleep or ruins my quality of life.

CBD products are sold in varying dosages that might or might not contain very small percentages of THC, as well. You can buy them online and depending on what state you live in, you can buy it at retail establishments. In fact, CBD use has grown so widespread according to market researchers the Brightfield Group, the global CBD market could expand to $22 billion by 2022. That’s not what I’d call an outlier.

The problem is that CBD has been existing in a legal grey area. For all intents and purposes, the DOJ and DEA consider any part of cannabis, including CBD, a narcotic, but they have not enforced any laws when it comes to so-called “industrial hemp” products that include less than 0.3 percent THC, which covers most CBD products.

However, CBD has found an unlikely Congressional champion in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has introduced legislative language into the bi-partisan 2018 Farm Bill that would remove industrial hemp production from the Controlled Substances Act. Oddsmakers on Capitol Hill give the Farm Bill a 65 percent chance of being passed before the end of the year.

Moreover, besides market potential, CBD advocates argue that, as a non-addictive painkiller, the drug could be a cure for the opioid epidemic facing the United States. That said, we haven’t seen Congress approve funding for in-depth NSF or NIH research into CBD’s efficacy as a safer opioid alternative.

And that’s what CBD needs: Research. It has the market legitimacy. It’s getting the legal legitimacy. But it needs the actual medical and pharmaceutical legitimacy that makes for sound medicine. For instance, CBD can influence the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme system, which helps metabolize various compounds — including a whole host of drugs, such as statins, steroids and antidepressants. Without medical research into possible interactions, the medical community and consumers are flying blind.

It’s time to get past whatever hang-ups we might have about CBD or cannabis, and start doing the necessary research that legitimate pharmaceuticals require. Market demand and usage have brought the issue to the fore.

This article originally appeared in the DME Pharmacy December 2018 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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