I was bowled over by all of the responses I received to my cannabis essay from last week.
Dozens of questions and comments came flooding into the Manward mailbag. Today, as promised, I’ll dive in and give my answers. But be forewarned…
I won’t be able to respond to every note I received. At least not in this single piece. So if I didn’t get to your question this time around, don’t worry; I’ll be doing a series of follow-up essays in the weeks and months ahead.
No doubt, there’s a lot to unpack in this space. And more questions are sure to arise. So please, keep them coming.
I’m excited to spread some Know-How on this important subject.
When Failure Is Not an Option
Let’s start with a question from Jack C…
Is CBD oil safe to use and still pass a federal drug test? – Jack C.
This was a very common question among Manward readers.
I have good news. Your average CBD cream or supplement contains such a low level of THC that it’s unlikely to register on a test. (THC is the psychoactive element in cannabis – i.e., the part that gets you high.)
But I understand your concern.
Many employers – including the federal government – administer drug tests on a regular basis. It’s standard practice for much of the working world.
Cannabis has been classified as a Schedule 1 drug ever since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. That designation technically prohibits its use for any purpose (including as a medical treatment).
Now, cannabis could be reclassified at any time. And if the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the recent approval of the CBD-based drug Epidiolex are any indication, it will happen sooner than later. But the situation right now is that cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug. And that means, in the eyes of the Drug Enforcement Administration, cannabis is right on the same illicit tier as heroin and LSD (Oxycodone is still A-OK though).
So whether you’re a government employee or you work for a private business, your boss has the legal right to test you for its use.
Generally speaking, to “fail” a standard pee or blood test requires there to be at least 50 ng/mL of THC present in your system.1 That’s the limit recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Most employers rely on SAMHSA-certified labs to process their tests.
But like I said, the majority of CBD products contain such a low level of THC, they’re unlikely to get you anywhere near that limit.
If the CBD is derived from hemp, THC levels should be less than 0.3%. (To compare, there are strains of marijuana that contain more than 25% THC.) And thanks to modern technology, it’s now possible to create CBD oils, lotions and other products that contain zero THC.
A THC-free product is likely to be more expensive. But if you’re worried about passing a drug test, it may be a good option for you.
As always, I’d recommend doing lots of research before you try any new product. Read the label. Look up reviews online. And try to find out if the product was sent to an independent lab to verify the “no THC” claim.
CBD: For the Dogs?
Since the passage of the farm bill, there are many CBD products available that are derived from hemp instead of cannabis. Are these therapeutically the same? – Robin D.
Another good question. The answer is yes. The therapeutic benefits of CBD are the same if it comes from hemp.
But just to be clear… hemp is cannabis. And so is marijuana.
A lot of people think hemp and marijuana are two different plants, but that’s not quite right. They’re just two different forms of cannabis.
The only major difference, as noted above, is that marijuana has a high THC content while hemp contains virtually none.
Is there any CBD in hemp seeds? – Don J.
Nope. You won’t get any CBD (or THC) from hemp seeds. It must be extracted from the flowers, leaves and stalk of the actual plant.
Hemp seeds have lots of other health benefits though; they’re a great source of protein, fiber, and numerous vitamins and minerals.2
Just not CBD.
Dr. Jain, being a disabled vet from a back injury sustained while on active duty, now suffering from chronic pain, in your opinion what would be the best type of CBD formula to reduce the pain? A topical patch or ingestible? I did have surgery in 1980, resulting in a fusion. And yes, you are right that education is a big player in this. For most of us, the whole CBD treatment idea has really come on so quickly, deciding which products to use is quite overwhelming.
Thank you for this opportunity to reach out. I applaud your involvement. – Ron B.
Thank you for your kind words, Ron – and for your service.
I understand what you mean about feeling overwhelmed. Even before Trump signed the farm bill, the hype machine surrounding CBD was in full effect. In recent years I’ve watched as the marketplace has become flooded with CBD oils… CBD suntan lotions… CBD toothpaste…
I’ve even seen CBD dog food!
Now, I could argue the merits of some of these products, but others are precisely what they look like: a cash grab.
It’s unfortunate because, as I’ve mentioned numerous times here in Manward Digest, the potential health benefits of CBD are off the charts. CBD could be a miraculous alternative to dangerous pain meds. But with so much noise out there, finding the right product can be challenging.
Without knowing more specifics about your situation, Ron, it’s hard for me to say what kind of treatment would yield the best results. But I can tell you that studies suggest the topical use of CBD shows great promise as a treatment for arthritis pain.3
Another study found that CBD, when ingested, “may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating osteoarthritis joint neuropathic pain.”4
And yet another study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine determined that the administration of CBD “significantly [suppressed] chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain” in test subjects.5
Hundreds more studies are being conducted as I write this.
If you’re curious about what CBD can do for you, I’d encourage you to shop around and try a few different products – both topicals and ingestibles. It may take a few tries to find something that’s ideal, but the effort’s sure to be worth it.
Suffering Masses Be Damned
We’ll close this round of Q and A’s with a note from reader Mel G…
Mine isn’t really a question. While Congress was all for fast-tracking Big Pharma drugs, they do nothing about cannabis. Sad to say it, but follow the money. Big Pharma has known all along about the effectiveness of cannabis, but since they couldn’t patent it they chose to kill it and the suffering masses be damned. – Mel G.
It really is crazy. To some degree, cannabis has been considered a poison in the United States since the beginning of the 20th century.
For decades, people have been deprived of a natural miracle that’s proven capable of treating everything from Alzheimer’s… to diabetes… to even cancer.
Now, fortunately, the tides are beginning to shift.
Exciting times are ahead.
Dr. Sanjay Jain, MD, MBA
P.S. I heard from several readers asking about the investment opportunities that come with changing cannabis laws. It’s clear there’s plenty of money to be made here. So I’m going to go ahead and “pass the pen” to Andy. He’ll share some of his best ideas with you in tomorrow’s issue.