FLORENCE, S.C. – The Florence Rotary Club got an overview of CBD oil Monday afternoon from Dr. Valerian Bruce of McLeod Occupational Therapy.
CBD oil is the informal name for Cannabidiol, one of 113 cannabinoids in cannabis plants. CBD oil is extracted from cannabis plants using a carrier like coconut oil.
The product is derived from one of two types of cannabis plants, Bruce said.
Those plants are classified based upon how much Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in the plants. THC is the main psychoactive drug in marijuana.
If the plant has greater than 0.3 percent of THC by dry weight, the plant is classified as marijuana, which is illegal in the United States. With a dry weight below 0.3 percent THC, the plant is classified as hemp, which was exempted from Schedule I in 2014.
CBD oil can be consumed in a variety of ways, Bruce added.
CBD oil, Bruce added, does not have any of the psychoactive effects typically associated with consumption of marijuana. He also quoted a statement from the World Health Organization saying CBD oil does not have addictive potential.
However, in the United States, CBD oil is classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Schedule I drugs do not have any medical benefit and carry a high degree of potential for abuse.
Bruce said the legality depends upon which type of cannabis plant CBD oil is extracted from.
He showed a slide containing pictures of marijuana and hemp that looked virtually identical.
If the oil is derived from a plant classified as a marijuana plant, the definition of marijuana by the Schedule I act would make CBD oil illegal.
He listed an example of a study by a medical school in Pennsylvania of products that were marketed as CBD oil but also contained levels of the banned THC compound. The study found that 21 percent of products marketed as CBD oil contained THC.
Bruce also talked about a lack of registration by the federal government on products containing CBD oil, leading to a large discrepancy in what the product is marketed as and what the product actually has in it.
The classification of CBD oil as a Schedule I drug, Bruce said, limits the ability of medical professionals to conduct trials to determine the medical benefits of the substance.
“CBD oil does have many potential benefits, but we need to have good quality, controlled studies in order to validate its use,” Bruce said.
He said that more research is needed to determine what conditions CBD oil can treat and at what dosage.
Some of the potential areas of treatment include seizures, anxiety, insomnia, protection for the central nervous system and the controlling of cancer-related symptoms.
A medication to treat childhood seizures containing 100 percent CBD oil has been approved and classified as a Schedule V drug.
Another potential treatment area includes multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms.
Most studies, Bruce added, showed a better benefit when THC is involved, creating potential legal issues because THC is illegal.
Among the potential side effects are irritability, fatigue, nausea, an increase in the thinning of the blood and an increase in level of medications that are metabolized in the liver, such as cholestoral and seizure medications.
Bruce also said that a person who is thinking of using CBD oil should exercise caution.
Such products might cause a person to fail a drug test.
THC does not leave the body quickly, either, Bruce said. He also advised speaking to children and young adults about the potential ramifications of consuming CBD oil.
Bruce works for McLeod Occupational Health assisting with physicals, treating work-related injuries and illnesses and work-fitness testing. He graduated in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health and also obtained a bachelor of science in physical therapy and a master’s degree in health sciences with a physical therapy focus.
Bruce obtained a doctorate of medicine in 2011 from the Medical University of South Carolina. He did his internship and residency at McLeod Family Medicine and continued working there until he moved to Occupational Health.