Hi, I’m Dr. Lucille Vega, and I have been in my Family Medicine practice for the past 23 years. I have studied and practiced Cannabis Medicine for the past 7 years.
Today, I’d like to talk about some common CBD myths and misconceptions and give you the information you need to make informed choices about CBD and your wellness.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of the 100-plus naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD is abundantly found in hemp (essentially a cousin of marijuana).
THC and CBD are cannabinoids. To clarify the difference between the two – THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol but often commonly refers to Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is a cannabinoid molecule in cannabis that's been recognized to be the main psychoactive ingredient that causes people to feel high or stoned. CBD is chemically similar to THC but does not have the psychoactive effects that THC does.
CBD has increased in popularity in the last several years as people turn to it for all kinds of wellness benefits, from sleep and calm to mood and pain relief. CBD can be found in many forms including tincture oil, flower, gummies, vape cartridges, topicals, soaps, bath products, inhalers, and even pet products.
CBD Myth #1: CBD Gets You High
The number one misconception is that CBD gets you high like THC. It does not.
There may be a feeling of relaxation, less anxiety, and happiness – which is NOT the same as being high. Perhaps many folks in today's society are so stressed out, they have forgotten what it feels like to be unburdened by a constant, gnawing, anxious feeling; so when they do find a little relief, they may confuse it for the “high” effects of THC.
In the early 1960s, it was discovered that unlike THC, CBD is not a psychoactive cannabinoid. Psychoactivity means that the THC can cause you to feel euphoric, and perhaps temporarily disabling if someone is not used to the effects of THC in their body. Once again, unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and does not get you stoned.
There are many reviews on the non-psychoactivity of CBD. In May 2022, a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that 15 mg, 300 mg, or 1500 mg of CBD oil did not induce feelings of intoxication or appear to impair cognitive or driving performance.
CBD Myth #2: CBD is Illegal
This is probably the second most common myth about CBD. The short answer is no, CBD is not illegal. But the fuller answer is a little more complicated.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed all hemp-derived products from the controlled substances act, effectively making hemp – and with it, CBD – legal in the United States. While this means that CBD made from hemp is legal federally, each state can (and does!) interpret the Farm Bill differently, with varying degrees of restriction.
This can also mean that CBD from hemp – despite the 2018 Farm Bill – is still considered illegal in some states. Others have various restrictions in place about what part of the plant the CBD is coming from, or even that it has to have absolutely zero THC. That’s why it’s always best to check the regulations in your state, including whether you can order CBD online vs buying it in a store.
CBD Myth #3: CBD is Addictive
Another common myth is that CBD is addictive. While CBD can come from either the hemp or marijuana plant, it is not considered an addictive compound.
The simple definition of addiction is not having control over doing, taking, or using something to the point where it could be harmful to the person, loved ones, or their environment. The person is not able to stop thinking or doing the action. CBD does not fall into this category. However, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, crystal meth, and opioids do.
In fact, according to the World Health Organization, a Critical Review Report report in 2018 stated “at present there are no case reports of abuse or dependence relating to the use of pure CBD” and “at present, no public health problems (i.e. driving).”
CBD Myth #4: CBD is Only for Medical Use
Contrary to what some might think, you do not have to have an actual diagnosed medical condition or be a medical marijuana patient to use CBD made from hemp. Many folks turn to CBD for help with their sleep, occasional anxiety, and pain.
There is a growing trend of using CBD for wellness. For example, if CBD can help provide two extra hours of sleep for someone, that would greatly help their pain perception, cognitive agility, irritability, and overall mood. CBD can help lead to a better quality of life and better wellness just by helping a person's sleep quality.
I have many patients tell me that they are taking CBD for sleep, anxiety, and pain when they need an occasional remedy. For example, I have had patients who are “weekend warriors” tell me that after a day playing softball, they will wake up Monday morning with a sore back. They take hemp CBD for a couple of days and the soreness is resolved.
CBD Myth #5: All CBD Products Are the Same
Another common misconception is that all CBD products are identical in quality. My patients ask me about this all the time.
My answer? No, not all CBD products are the same.
I have noticed over the last several years that CBD companies seem to be popping up everywhere. It may be difficult to discern between the ones who just want to make a dollar vs the ones that actually see the light and want to help their fellow man. I do recommend choosing a company that proves their commitment to transparency by showing their lab findings and certificates of analysis (COAs).
I tell my patients how important it is to understand the quality and sourcing of any CBD product they choose, and to make sure it is subject to third-party testing. This is important because many low quality products can have organic phosphates, pesticides, heavy metals, and other ingredients that could be harmful. Remember, this is a plant that is grown in the ground, so it's good to know the quality of the soil. Even hydroponic plants require some type of fertilizer, so it’s also important to know what you are NOT putting into your body by looking at lab results.
It‘s always a good idea to do your own research. Go to a CBD company's website and see if they offer any CBD education resources so you can make an informed decision about their product. A good company will put education at the forefront to help you decide if their product is right for you. I would look to see if they have a customer service department you can call – and ask many questions!
You want to avoid companies that promise miracle cures or make outrageous claims. You want to choose a company that uses organic hemp and CO2 extraction methods. You definitely want to look at the company's product lab findings (batch specific certificates of analysis, or "COAs"). Definitely, you want to read the reviews online, both the good and the bad. If you happen to be lucky enough to know a physician, medical provider, or pharmacist who is knowledgeable and willing to discuss CBD, you may want to ask them for their opinion.
As I tell my own patients, it’s best to do your own research to be comfortable with the “language” of CBD and the labeling in this field of supplements. It’s wise to become a little more educated before you start using a specific CBD product. Remember, CBD is, in many ways, still in its infancy when it comes to government oversight and manufacturing regulation.
Here are two great resources I recommend to my patients who want to learn more about CBD: