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By Ashley Gay, PharmD
Gayco Pharmacist Consultant

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are more popular than ever. There are so many choices on the market but very little information on effectiveness, adverse effects, or drug interactions. There is also confusion about the difference between THC and CBD.

Two of the main active components of cannabis are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC and CBC active differently in the body. THC activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain, while CBD appears to work by other mechanisms. THC leads to a high while CBD does not. CBD does not cause dependence either. Hemp with 0.3% THC or less is no longer a federally controlled substance. It is a legal source of CBD in Georgia. State laws vary. CBD is not a controlled substance but I do recommend facilities treat it as such for documentation purposes. Hemp-derived CBD products can be sold in cosmetics and do not have to undergo FDA approval.

There are no universal quality standards or regulations for non-prescription CBD products. Look for companies that list the amount of CBD per serving per application, makes testing results from an independent lab available, meets “ISO 17025” standards, and maintain the Hemp Authority Designation.

CBD may have the following benefits: analgesia, anticonvulsant, anti-oxidant, anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects, muscle relaxant, and neuroprotective effects. The onset of effect varies depending on the route of administration selected. Inhalation and sublingual products provide the fastest onset of action while oral products may take longer. There are also topical formulations that vary from person to person. CBD has a different side effect profile than THC. It does not cause psychoactive effects or euphoria but residents may experience weight loss, decreased appetite, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, or fatigue. Larger doses may also lead to liver failure. There are multiple potential drug interactions including, but not limited to, amitriptyline, valproic acid, warfarin, and clarithromycin.

We don’t know what outcomes to expect with CBD products or the long term effects. I believe they would be beneficial for some residents if it limits the use of other medications such as opioids, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics. They may also be worth trying if it improves the quality of life. Please contact Gayco Healthcare if you have any questions regarding the products we carry.