What is CBD Used For?
Did you know that as far back as 2003 the U.S. government patented the possible usage of non-psychoactive cannabinoids for protecting the brain from degeneration or damage resulting from certain diseases, such as cirrhosis?
This little-known fact is quite contradictory to the federal government’s continued pressure on small- to medium-scale CBD businesses. On the one hand, the government has patented, and presumably seeks to profit from, CBD in the future. On the other hand, it's also trying to limit the profitability and access to CBD as a valuable supplement. What is going on?
The Birth of The CBD Industry
Over the past few decades, a body of evidence has accumulated about the health benefits of a recently discovered substance called cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabidiol is a compound found in the cannabis plant, similar to THC, but without any of its well-known psychoactive properties.
The preliminary scientific research, on top of the many well-documented case studies, has triggered an explosion of the cannabinoid supplement market. Small companies, often family owned and operated, have started producing CBD extracts and tinctures. Customers seek out this all-natural product and use it to self-medicate a wide variety of illnesses.
Although CBD is derived from both hemp and cannabis, the hemp variety is much more scalable within the United States due to its legal standing. Cannabis in the form of medical marijuana, although legal in 23 states, remains classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Hemp, on the other hand, is legal in all 50 states, and in many countries around the globe.
The Dichotomy Between Big Pharma and CBD
Big pharmaceutical companies have caught wind of the CBD supplement industry and now are seeking to beat these small cannabinoid companies to the punch. These massive global enterprises, such as GW Pharmaceuticals, see only dollar signs when they see CBD oil. It represents an untapped market ripe for exploration.
Cannabidiol still is awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a recognized medicinal therapy. Most CBD supplement companies don’t have the financial resources to seek FDA approval. According to a recent study, getting a new drug approved can cost more than $1.4 billion from start to finish. This price tag understandably means that only large global pharmaceutical organizations can seek approval of new drugs.
Companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals already are developing a Big Pharma response to the all-natural CBD supply. GW has a drug called Epidiolex in the works that, according to their website, is a "proprietary oral solution of pure plant-derived cannabidiol.”
So, what's the big deal if a pharmaceutical company wants into the game as well? Isn’t there room for everyone? Unfortunately, companies such as GW are seeking to monopolize the CBD industry. If they successfully patent their CBD product and receive full FDA approval, CBD supplement companies currently in business effectively will be shut out.
The CBD Battlefield of South Dakota
The battle for control of the nascent CBD market is taking shape in one state in particular. According to some recent news, GW is staking its claim in South Dakota. This struggle recently was exposed by Melissa Mentele, a longtime CBD proponent living in South Dakota.
Although she often has been involved in the local fight to have CBD recognized by the state as a natural medicine, she was shocked to find some new attendees at the most recent town hall. Instead of the usual suspects, new players were involved: two lobbyists for big pharmaceutical companies. Not surprisingly, they were representing the interests of GW and its American subsidiary, Greenwich Biosciences.
Instead of supporting her fight for recognizing CBD in South Dakota, these lobbyists were prepping for approval for the proprietary drug, Epidiolex. Although it may seem as though everyone could benefit from state approval of CBD, nothing could be further from the truth.
The South Dakota state legislature is considering a bill that would reclassify as CBD as a Schedule IV drug. That means it has a low potential for abuse compared to Schedule III drugs and has a currently accepted medical use. Unfortunately for all the state’s current CBD patients and suppliers, this bill would allow only products that have received FDA approval. As mentioned earlier, the cost for such approval is prohibitive for most small to medium-sized companies.
It seems as if both the federal government and big pharmaceutical companies wish to profit from their own versions of cannabinoid therapy, through a combined strategy of legislation and patent law. If left unchecked, this could mean small producers who have worked in the industry for decades are completely cut off.
What is CBD Used for that could trigger this Huge Big Pharma takeover?
Obviously, if big drug companies are getting involved, there must be some huge benefits to CBD. Other herbal supplements typically have failed to catch the attention of big business as CBD has. This is because CBD has shown immense potential for treating a wide variety of health issues over the years. Here is what the current research is investigating:
One area of aggressive scientific exploration is CBD’s potential for fighting cancer. Although many herbal supplements claim they cure cancer, there is actually some sound proof that CBD could fight tumors, inhibit cell migration and slow down tumor growth. Further research is needed to confirm these preliminary results. However, the initial studies have examined many types of cancer, including bladder, lung, prostate, breast and testicular.
Anxiety and Depression
People often associate cannabis consumption with anxiety and paranoia, so it might sound counter-intuitive to claim CBD treats anxiety disorders. But CBD is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis and helps inhibit the anxiety triggers of THC. When used on its own, in small-scale trials, CBD has proven extremely powerful for soothing anxieties and taking the edge off stressful situations.
The story of CBD therapy for children suffering from drug-resistant forms of epilepsy has been sensationalized by the media. But, the astonishing results are based on some solid scientific evidence. This is why companies such as GW are seeking to profit from it.
Helps Fight Addiction
Using CBD in conjunction with opioids for chronic pain may help improve people’s tolerance, increase the drugs’ effectiveness and reduce the risk for abuse. One study has shown CBD helped reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by people addicted to nicotine.
One of the most researched areas is CBD’s potential as a potent anti-inflammatory agent. A 2012 animal study demonstrated that CBD inhibited chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain without also creating dependency or tolerance.
RELATED: CBD Tolerance: What you need to know
What Can Consumers Do to Protect the Benefits of CBD?
With all the health benefits CBD may demonstrate given a few more clinical trials, it's up to us as patients to prevent the big pharmaceutical companies from taking control. All-natural, whole plant medicine has much more to offer than a laboratory-produced isolate drug. Large companies seeking to profit from the therapeutic benefits of plants such as cannabis should not be allowed to do so to the exclusion of other smaller organizations creating equally as beneficial supplements.
Many more benefits are explored in depth in “Most Important Studies on CBD”. Read more about what the research says about CBD, and use this information to promote its benefits to your locally elected leaders. Stay informed and make your voice heard.
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