CBD oil as medicine: The promise and the risks
Metro Atlanta resident Becky Ferguson says she started using non-addictive cannabis oil because she hoped it would ease her chronic pain.
The result was not quite what she expected.
“It might have helped a little bit [with the pain], but I am getting a tremendous reduction in anxiety,” says Ferguson, who is in her late 50s.
Ferguson says she’s calmer and better able to deal with stress than she has ever been in her life. “I have a much higher quality of life,” she says.
Yet there are also health warnings about CBD oil (cannabidiol) and hemp-derived products.
When it comes to hemp and cannabis, there is much confusion among the public about labels, because of how science and the law define these substances. For the average person, it’s almost like having too many cousins with the same first name.
Another source of confusion is that recreational use and medical use of marijuana — though they are different things — are both gaining legal and social acceptance in the United States.
CBD oil is derived from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (cannabis), it does not make a person “high.”
People generally can obtain it easily in stores across the country. You might want to visit sites like https://deltamunchies.com/delta-8-vape-pens/ so that you can order one online. There are also Medical Cannabis Extracts and edibles like Delta-8 Candies for those who don’t like smoking CBD products.
Some researchers differentiate hemp from marijuana by pointing to THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. (In other words, it’s what causes the high.) Cannabis plants that produce THC at a concentration higher than 0.3% are labeled “cannabis,” while those that produce less than that are labeled “hemp.”
The nationwide legal status of CBD changed fairly recently. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 proposed to remove hemp from the Schedule 1 list of controlled substances, making it an ordinary agricultural commodity. The act’s provisions were incorporated into the Farm Bill that became law last December.
Do you know what you’re getting?
Hemp is a promising product for farmers.
A 2018 Forbes article said that spending on legal cannabis worldwide is expected to hit $57 billion by 2027. The adult-use (recreational) market will cover 67 percent of the spending, and medical uses will take up the remaining 33 percent.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is from the largely agricultural state of Kentucky, ensured that the federal Farm Bill passed. In Georgia, another state where farming is very important, Gov. Brian Kemp supported the recent Hemp Farming Act. It allows for the production and sale of hemp products, but only by “licensed farmers.” Every state is making its own farming rules.
CBD oil is selling well in Georgia, but all of it on the market here now comes from other states. Once Georgia creates regulations, CBD can be manufactured in the state by farmers who receive a hemp growing license, which costs $50 per acre annually, the AJC reported.
As of now, Georgia’s Department of Agriculture says no licenses have been issued. The state’s hemp rules are still being developed.
In the meantime, plenty of CBD items, like CBD moonrocks, are for sale in Georgia. People can buy cannabis products from such vendors as convenience stores, mall kiosks and hardware stores, as well as from smoke shops and online vendors.
But with no regulations on these sales, what’s safe?
Buyers have little protection
Today, it’s a “buyer beware” market.
Ferguson, who lives in DeKalb County, says she found a third-party reputable laboratory to verify the contents of her CBD product. She says it’s important to research companies before making a buying decision.
Atlanta pharmacist Ira Katz says, he, too, recognized the importance of CBD for several reasons, “but only if it’s coming from a reputable company.”
As a pharmacist, Katz looks for companies with stellar reputations. And for now, he’s settled on a few products. “You can’t go to a convenience store and talk to the clerk with questions like: ‘Can I take it? How much should I take? Is it safe?’ ”
Katz also reminds his customers to beware of potentially unsafe products. Reputable pharmacists, says Katz, take the time to ask about the quality of products before ordering them, and they make recommendations based on a patient’s medical history.
Hemp products are not for everyone, and they are not the cure-all that some advertisers may suggest, Katz says. But he adds that “the beauty of it [CBD] is that it really doesn’t seem to have interactions.”
“Many people are taking sleeping products with addictive properties and far too many [take] addictive pain medications,” he says.
There are certain circumstances for which Katz might suggest a legal hemp product. For example, it can be beneficial to patients who have been on opioids for pain management to lessen their daily intake, and hemp products may enable them to do that.
A seller with a mission
“My mom had cancer when I was in my 20s,” says Joe Salome in an interview at his Sandy Springs store. Salome says he watched his mom receive relief from her medicinal cannabis years ago.
Salome believes in these products. As far as he’s concerned, “all marijuana use is medical use at the end of the day.”
“Whether we know it or not [you can call] it medical or recreational.” That’s why many states that have legalized cannabis get rid of the medical cannabis category completely as they transition, says Salome.
Salome is a partner in the Georgia Hemp Company. He says he’s seen how cannabis can help people.
Once a medical marijuana law was passed in Georgia under previous Gov. Nathan Deal, Salome went from an online distributor to a merchant with a brick-and-mortar location where he could talk to concerned consumers.
“For the most part,” said Salome, “the people that visit our store are looking for some type of relief from pain, anxiety or sleep [issues].”
“What we find is that the majority of people out there don’t want a product with even a little bit of THC — even the legal limit — because of the taste, the stigma or whatever — they don’t necessarily want it.”
“As shop owners, we are going after what CBD does about the inflammation, anxiety, pain and those types of things,” said Salome. He hopes other companies are just as concerned as he is. He also wishes find more CBD Oil products that effectively work to relieve chronic pain.
Federal government officials, meanwhile, have raised concerns about these products.
The FDA has issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved new drugs allegedly containing CBD. As part of these actions, the FDA tests the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds.
Some were found not to contain the levels of CBD that their makers claimed on the packaging. “These products are [also] not FDA-approved for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease,” states the FDA.
The Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to three companies selling oils, tinctures, capsules, “gummies” and creams. In the letters, the FTC urged the companies to review all claims made for their products, including consumer testimonials, to ensure they are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
In the interim, it’s the buyer taking the risk.
Physician hopeful but cautious
Dr. Cheryl McGowan, a family medicine physician who lives in Alpharetta, says that while “some of the early research appears promising,” she’s not ready to recommend CBD just yet.
McGowan says some side effects are minor, such as fatigue, nausea and diarrhea. Others, like liver toxicity and interaction with medications, such as the blood thinner Coumadin, have the potential to be severe.
Like many other health practitioners, McGowan cautions, “Right now, we really don’t know, other than some small studies, many of which were conducted in the lab or in animal models, exactly how CBD use affects humans long-term. And what dosages are optimal for different patients and different conditions.”
Meanwhile, stores selling CBD oil are popping up all over.
Breana Holmes in her store. Photo credit: Marietta Daily Journal
The Marietta Daily Journal recently reported that Canton resident Breana Holmes had struggled with the widespread pain of fibromyalgia for years when a friend let her try some of the cannabis-derived CBD products he was selling at his newly opened CBD shop.
The results changed her life, she says.
Holmes, who said she also suffers from anxiety, said the pain she felt regularly was finally manageable and she was able to relax, the Daily Journal reported. So, she said, she set out to open her own shop, and in February, Holmes became an owner of a Your CBD Store franchise location in Smyrna.
And there are now four Your CBD Store locations in Cobb County alone, the Daily Journal reported.
Judi Kanne, a registered nurse and freelance writer, combines her nursing and journalism backgrounds to write about public health. She lives in Atlanta.
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Is Delta-8 Legal in Georgia?
Growing federal pressure isn’t stopping Delta-8 in Georgia no matter how hard they try.
Good news! Possession, use, sale, and distribution of hemp-derived delta-8 THC is currently legal in Georgia.
According to Georgian state law, which coincides with federal law outlined in the Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill 2018), all hemp-derived cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, isomers, salts, and seeds are not prohibited within the state.
The only illegal hemp-derived compound is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9 or just THC), which is categorized as a federally illegal under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and Georgia’s own Controlled Substances Act.
Delta-8 in Georgia:
- Under state and federal law, the use, possession, sale, and distribution of delta-8 THC is legal in Georgia.
- You can purchase delta-8 online or in CBD dispensaries, vape stores, and head shops located all across the state.
- Delta-8 beverages, foods, dietary supplements, and animal feed are prohibited due to Georgia’s state law coinciding with FDA guidelines.
- CBD and delta-10-THC are also legal in Georgia.
- Because delta-8 is legal in the state, you can travel into Georgia with delta-8 products.
- The future for delta-8 in the U.S. (incl. Georgia) is looking shaky — the federal government and the DEA are clamping down on delta-8 products.
- 15 states have already restricted or banned delta-8. Six more are reviewing its legal status.
Legislative history surrounding delta-8 in Georgia
Following the passing of HB. 213 in the House and Senate in 2019, Georgia enacted the Georgia Hemp Farming Act, a piece of state legislation designed to fall in line with the federal guidelines set out by the Farm Bill 2018. This means delta-8 and other THC variants were removed from Georgia’s own controlled substances list, provided they’re derived from hemp carrying no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC.
Since then, Georgia’s state government has not amended the Georgia Hemp Farming Act nor have any changes been made to its Controlled Substances Act.
What about medical cannabis legalization?
Medical cannabis is legal in Georgia but its use is very limited. In 2015, HB. 1 (otherwise known as The Haleigh’s Act) legalized medical cannabis oil carrying up to 0.5% THC, as opposed to the federal 0.3% THC limit.
There are 17 qualifying conditions to be met before patients are prescribed medical cannabis oil. Qualifying conditions include epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, intractable pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Nine jurisdictions in Georgia have decriminalized or reduced penalties for cannabis use and possession. Jurisdictions include Atlanta, Clarkston, South Fulton, and Statesboro.
Buying delta-8 in Georgia
You can purchase delta-8 products in Georgia from licensed online and in-store CBD vendors and dispensaries. There are several physical CBD dispensaries and vape shops located around the state, namely in Atlanta, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, and Sharpsburg. If you’re shopping online for D8 products, you can find numerous vendors ready to ship to addresses in Georgia. See our list of recommended delta-8 products you can purchase online.
Avoid cheap D8 products sold in gas stations
We recommend staying away from cheap delta-8 THC products sold in gas stations and convenience stores. Some of them are unsafe, unclean, labeled incorrectly, and potentially hazardous to your health.
One Reddit user picked up a delta-8 THC vape cartridge from a gas station and the Reddit community was quick to point out its glaring flaws. The company that produced it had no website, just a QR code taking them to a questionable Certificate of Analysis. Avoid.
What kind of delta-8 THC is legal in Georgia?
Delta-8 sourced from Farm Bill compliant hemp is legal in Georgia. In order for the hemp to be legal, it must carry less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. Any variety of hemp over this 0.3% delta-9 limit is immediately considered high-THC marijuana, which is categorized as illegal at both state and federal levels.
If delta-8 is sourced from high-THC marijuana carrying above 0.3% THC, it’s illegal. Any company producing or selling marijuana-derived delta-8 products is in breach of state and federal law. Stay away from these products unless you want to risk prosecution.
Which product types are not legal in Georgia?
Despite delta-8 THC being legal in Georgia, there are a few product types not permitted within the state.
As outlined in a press release published by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA), CBD, delta-8, or any other hemp-derived compounds cannot be used in beverages, foods, animal feed, and dietary supplements. Why? Because Georgian state law falls in line with the regulations set out by the FDA in its Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).
The FD&C excludes CBD, THC, and THC variants from its definition of dietary supplements and prohibits them from being added to foods and drinks for human and animal consumption.
Can you travel to Georgia with delta-8
Since the use and possession of delta-8 THC is legal, you can travel into Georgia with D8 products sourced from hemp. However, you cannot travel into Georgia with high-THC marijuana in your possession.
Is delta-10 THC legal in Georgia?
Yes. Delta-10 THC is legal in Georgia. Like delta-8, it’s federally protected by federal law as outlined in the Farm Bill 2018 and not listed as a controlled substance, provided it’s sourced from hemp carrying less than 0.3% THC.
Is CBD legal in Georgia?
Yes. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in Georgia under state and federal law outlined in the Georgia Hemp Farming Act and Farm Bill 2018. However, certain CBD products are prohibited under state law. Similar to delta-8 THC product limitations, you cannot purchase CBD in beverages, food, dietary supplements, animal feed.
New legislation could see a relaxing of FDA rules on CBD
In May 2021, S. 1698, a bipartisan Senate bill led by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), was introduced to allow the use of CBD and other hemp-derived compounds in foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.
The bill, otherwise known as the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act, challenges the FDA’s guidelines and seeks to amend the definition of a dietary supplement and foods in the FD&C Act. This would permit CBD and CBD products to be marketed and sold as foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.
Upcoming legislation in GA that could change legality of delta-8
There is currently no upcoming state legislation that could change the legality of delta-8 in Georgia, though there is concern among the CBD and cannabis communities over its federal legality, which could see delta-8 outright banned within the state.
The federal government cracking down on delta-8 across the U.S.
Back in September 2020, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a controversial Interim Final Rule (IFR) addressing the legal status of synthetic THC.
The DEA believes all “synthetically-derived” THC (tetrahydrocannabinols) must remain under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. What does this have to do with delta-8? You see, delta-8 isn’t specifically a controlled substance but how it’s made could see it become one. It’s all down to the DEA’s definition of “synthetically-derived”.
Is delta-8 synthetically-derived? Interpretations of the definition
Delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid, meaning less than 1% can be found in hemp plants. Since this isn’t enough to create delta-8 products, producers must convert CBD into delta-8 via a structural isomerization process using specialized chemicals under laboratory conditions.
And herein lies the confusion. Some argue the DEA is taking the dictionary definition of “synthetic” and applying it to delta-8 and the way it’s produced. The dictionary definition is “relating to, or produced by chemical or biochemical synthesis”. Now, because chemicals are used in the CBD conversion process, delta-8 could technically be a controlled substance under this definition.
However, others believe the process has nothing to do with synthetics since CBD is taken naturally from the hemp plant and isn’t a man-made chemical. In other words, producers neither create CBD from scratch nor do they ignore natural compounds. If this is the case, delta-8 is not a controlled substance.
Recent raids in Georgia spell more doubt over delta-8’s future
According to recent reports, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), under consultation with the DEA, raided several Georgian vape stores belonging to Atlanta Vapor, each one stocking delta-8 products.
According to a Reddit post, five were arrested and charged for trafficking a controlled substance. Cash and products were also seized.
The user who published the post called up the Fayette County DA’s office for details. According to an assistant DA, the GBI and the DEA raided delta-8 carts and found them to contain more than the legal limit of delta-9. Worse, the assistant DA claimed delta-8 carts are illegal and considered a type of marijuana in Georgia. A multi-county task force has now been set up to crack down on illegal delta-8.
So far, no other comments have been made by state officials, the GBI, or the DA on delta-8’s legality beyond this. For now, we believe this is an error on the assistant DA’s part and delta-8 remains legal, at least for now.
Closing thoughts: The future for delta-8 THC in Georgia
With the federal government and the DEA closing in, there’s a question mark over delta-8’s legality in Georgia and across the entire US. 15 states have either restricted or outright banned delta-8 THC, while a further six are currently reviewing its legal status. Thankfully, Georgia has not made any moves to prohibit the possession, use, sale, or distribution of delta-8, bringing hope to vendors and users alike. All we can do is wait and see. But, for now, you can freely enjoy delta-8 products in Georgia.