The Top 3 Myths about CBD

The number of people who believe the Top 3 Myths about CBD may surprise you.  No matter who you are, an experienced CBD user or someone who has barely even heard of CBD, this will make you look at things a little differently.  Understanding how a myth came to be believed by so many people is part of unraveling the truth.

Everyone has heard the phrase “knowledge is power”.  CBD is one of the fastest growing industry segments in the United States with one of the largest perception challenges and one of the widest knowledge gaps of any product.  Let’s explore how we got here and then arm you with the power of knowing the truth about some very popular myths, while having a little fun too.  Remember, a myth can be defined as “a widely held, but false belief or idea”.

To highlight the consumer perception challenges, see the results of a recent survey.  The results found that 55% of consumers said, “CBD oil is/might be a new miracle treatment”, 35% said “I’m not sure what to think of CBD oil”, and 11% said “CBD oil is just hype”.  Wow, that’s a pretty wide-ranging set of strong statements.

The CBD Industry

Let’s first understand the history of cannabis and the CBD industry.

Cannabis, be it marijuana or hemp, has a long and deep history around the world of being used for medical, industrial or recreational purposes.  The United States’ has its own history of common use for centuries before 20th-century criminalization efforts.  Currently, the CBD industry and the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana is showing a new acceptance of both marijuana and hemp.  The country is coming around full circle.

Depending on the analyst source, the market for CBD in the United States is expected to grow between 30%-50% each year for the next five years.  As referenced by Forbes, that means that the CBD market will be $15-$20 billion by 2024.  It’s hard to think of another example of such a growing and large industry that is plagued by so many misconceptions and a general lack of consumer understanding. 

The Good and Bad of Growth

The good news is that part of this growth projection is the result of expanding sales channels.  You can now find CBD at more places than traditional dispensaries or dedicated CBD retail stores.  CBD can now be found in grocery stores, pet stores, e-commerce on thousands of websites and even your local gas station.   This is a result of increased availability of product, good gross margins and growing market demand.  This expansion and exposure of CBD should continue the trend towards public acceptance of CBD products as the legal cannabis product it is.

The bad news is that this rapidly growing marketplace puts an already biased, misinformed or confused consumer audience into sales outlets that may not be able to provide effective CBD education.  To add insult to injury, the number of brands is multiplying, so it’s hard to know good product from bad.  Firms are selling generic white-label products to almost anyone.  They then place their own name on it.  Often, CBD products do not have proper labeling, poor CBD content or lack certificates of analysis from 3rd-party labs.  Labeling guidelines have improved, and more regulation is on the horizon, but proper identification of good product is still a problem.

So, let’s deal with the Top 3 myths, plus some fun ones listed as “honorable mention”.

Myths of cbd: #1 – CBD is for those “Pot Smokers”

Why does this myth exist?  For many who are strangers to cannabis, CBD is mentally grouped with marijuana and therefore associated with an illicit drug.  The history of banning cannabis by governments is full of manipulation for the purpose of taxes, federal versus state laws, and large industrial company interests.  But, for this myth’s purpose, one of the largest drivers of today’s perceptions were created by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.  This made all cannabis illegal and therefore forever linked THC-containing marijuana with the minimal THC version of cannabis, called hemp.  In the mind of most people in the last few generations, cannabis and therefore CBD, is tied to an illegal, recreational drug.

CBD is commonly used for overall wellness, as well as specific health challenges such as anxiety, inflammation (joint or muscle pain), depression, sleep (insomnia), stress and more.  It is the primary component in approved drugs for certain types of epilepsy.  As an example, Epidiolex is a CBD drug by GW Pharma with $296M of sales in 2019.

The Truth:  Although marijuana smokers also enjoy CBD because they recognize health benefit ,CBD is a health and wellness product for everyone, not a recreational product to get high.  CBD is for almost everyone, except for those taking medications that might interact with it.  So, when you see some post on a neighborhood app making fun of those CBD users, post a thoughtful response. As one of the myths of CBD, this myth is false.

Myths of cbd: #2 – CBD Health Benefits aren’t Real

There is no shortage of individuals out there that believe people using CBD are under some sort of mass delusion (11% of all people according to the survey mentioned in the opening section) and that most of the anecdotes are the result of the placebo effect.  Sound like anyone you know?

We don’t have the space here to get into all the scientific evidence and debate, but the truth is that the official medical processes just haven’t caught up with the industry.  New clinical studies are being funded now by both academic institutions and big pharmaceutical companies.  The studies are valuable because they can shed light on exactly how much CBD (and other cannabinoids) can help with which health challenges and at what dosages.

What is known by the medical community is that we all have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that helps to regulate many of the body’s functions, and it has two types of receptors throughout the body.   Your body produces cannabinoids already for the body to work properly and in equilibrium.  The stress, anxiety, diet, exercise, emotional and mental challenges that we face put our body out of balance and our ECS is part of the elegant design to help deal with those impacts.  Taking CBD and other cannabinoids (the others can be found in full- or broad- spectrum CBD products) does stimulate that system.  What we don’t know is how much is needed and what level of impact the different cannabinoid compounds have on different health issues.  The studies are much needed.

At the risk of falling into anecdotes as evidence, there are many consumer surveys and other sources of data available to give a sanity check to these medical facts.  One such survey asked 3500 CBD users about CBD’s impact on six quality of life measurements: Pain, mood, sleep, physical function, energy or motivation, and the ability to socialize. An example of the results shows that using CBD for Pain, nearly 90% saw some improvement and 60% said the pain was “much better”.  CBD for Anxiety, Depression and Mood disorders produced similar results:  92% experienced some relief and 68% said symptoms were “much better”.   Bottom-line, people are seeing the impacts, we just don’t know all of the variables to create optimal success. 

The Truth:  CBD produces dramatic health results for millions of people.  CBD companies can’t legally make firm claim to those benefits until the scientific evidence gathering has moved further along.  Those studies are incredibly valuable to make dosing, use and potential side-effects better understood and to increase general acceptance.  Regardless, there is no doubt that there are real health benefits and that we all need a strong, functioning endocannabinoid system in our bodies.

Myths of cbd: #3 –  CBD is Illegal, or in some “gray area”

The 2018 United States Farm Bill that became law on December 20, 2018 removed hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) from Schedule I controlled substances and made it an ordinary agricultural commodity.  That means CBD (derived from hemp and having less than 0.3% THC) became federally legal.

Of course, with that instant new federal law, many state and local laws were in conflict.  Many states have made the adjustments, differentiating CBD/hemp from marijuana, and of course in states that have legalized marijuana there is no problem at all.  Even in states where the laws haven’t quite caught up yet, there are often CBD shops on every corner, since there is a recognition by all that it is federally legal.

There are a few states that are a bit slower to make legal adjustments and occasionally try to do some enforcement, namely South Dakota, Idaho and Nebraska.  Even so, you can order online and receive product in any state. 

The Truth:  CBD is federally legal, but a few states have some “gray area” including specific medical requirements. You can always check in your state for the specifics around legality, but if you see CBD being sold openly in retail stores without any requirements to purchase, there isn’t much gray area.

Honorable Mention Myths of cbd

There are a number of statements that get thrown around, maybe at your neighborhood pub, that we can quickly address:

“CBD can Cure Cancer”:  Uh, no, although many people report it helping with cancer symptoms.

“THC with CBD is even better for you”:  Arguably yes.  From a cannabinoid medical perspective, THC is itself a cannabinoid and has its own unique health benefits, many which overlap with CBD itself, and some that don’t. For instance, THC enhances appetite, whereas CBD does not.  THC has other side-effects, including psycho-active effects (getting high) which many people may not want or could be unsafe.  Maybe this isn’t a myth, it’s true.

“CBD gets my high”:  Well, technically legal CBD has less than 0.3% of THC so there is no true high from psycho-active elements.  People may feel a better overall sense of well-being and balance and released from the negative feelings of pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and more.  You may feel differently for sure, but that’s a non psycho-active high.

The Future

The future of the industry is incredibly bright in terms of the sales growth, number of users and most importantly, the potential health benefits.  With the growth brings money, which means large pharma company involvement, big box retailer investment, banking regulation changes, local and state law acceptance and more.  The big benefit for the consumer and the industry participants will be well-funded clinical trials to further clarify health benefits, dosing, side-effects, and more.  The result, more access to higher quality products, more health benefits and a more educated population where fewer of these myths about CBD exist.

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