NYT piece on popularity of CBD
Roni Caryn Rabin has a new piece in the New York Times discussing what’s behind the newfound popularity of CBD: CBD is Everywhere, but Scientists Still Don’t Know Much About It.
As the title of the linked piece suggests, demand for CBD is booming, driven in large part by the belief that the substance can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. But, as it points out, there is, as yet, very little hard science to support those beliefs. To be sure, there are three research studies showing that natural CBD is effective at treating two rare forms of epilepsy; those studies spurred the FDA to approve a drug (Epidiolex) made from natural CBD, as I blogged about here. But it appears there are no such studies similarly demonstrating CBD’s effectiveness at treating Crohn’s disease, diabetes, depression, pain, eczema, or sundry other conditions for which people are now (apparently) using the drug as a treatment. One of the sources quoted in the piece even suggests that CBD has become “a new snake oil.”
Importantly, the piece is not alarmist. Although it notes the lack of studies demonstrating CBD’s efficacy, it also notes that CBD has relatively mild side effects (like diarrhea and drowsiness). And it mentions a handful of studies now underway to test CBD as a treatment for PTSD and anxiety, and as an aid in quitting tobacco (and other substances).
To my mind, the optimistic beliefs about CBD raise two concerns: 1) some people may be wasting their money on a drug that will not live up to its promise (a concern that is not unique to CBD, of course); and 2) worse yet, some people might forego other, more effective treatments for their medical conditions because they believe (perhaps wrongly) that CBD is just as (if not more) effective. The latter concern is part of the reason why the DEA has previously refused to reschedule marijuana without large studies demonstrating its medical efficacy (see book p. 209, n.5). These concerns do not justify an outright prohibition, but they do justify imposing some limitations on the claims vendors can make about CBD.
The piece does not say anything terribly new (indeed, the New York Times has run similar stories in the past 6 months), but it is well written and provides a good overview of some of the issues raised by the booming demand for CBD.