The WAAY 31 I-TEAM is taking a closer look at CBD, or Cannabidiol. Some people call it a wonder. Others believe it could be a dangerous and slippery slope.
In the past year, Alabama and the federal government started letting pharmacies sell CBD as long as the THC concentration is less than .3%. THC is the main ingredient that causes a high from marijuana.
CBD oil is popping up in more and more locations in North Alabama, as people believe it can relieve pain, stress and even cancer-related symptoms. However, it's also unregulated.
In the Shoals alone, the WAAY 31 I-TEAM has noticed at least 10 shops selling CBD oil and even a lot of gas stations have it stocked on their shelves.
Brian Roberts is the owner of Elite CBD, one of the first CBD shops to open up in Muscle Shoals. He says they get a lot of curious customers.
“Most of the time, they are wanting us to help educate them,” said Brian Roberts. “Most of the time, it's people with inflammation, arthritis, just body aches and pains, but some people have more serious situations, people with MS, epilepsy and Parkinson's.”
Roberts said an old sports injury to his back sparked his interest in CBD.
“Before CBD came around, I was having to take hydrocodone and I despised it,” said Roberts.
His shop sells a little bit of everything. You can ingest the CBD oil or smoke it. It comes in lotions, lip balms and gummy candy. His wife, Leigh Ann Roberts, also thinks there are benefits.
“Every morning when I get up, my hands are stiff. I'm a CPA and I'm on the computer all the time,”
She believes cream with CBD eases her pain every day.
“It takes the sting out and loosens them up and it's really helped,” said Leigh Ann Roberts.
Doctor Marlin Gill told the WAAY 31 I-TEAM he questions these types of claims. He said the only scientific proof and medically approved use of CBD oil is in childhood seizures.
“In some cases, that's been shown to be effective and actually, the FDA has approved one medication that's based on CBD for that,” said Gill. “I just read their claims and it's basically claiming to be a panacea for everything from arthritis to pain to anxiety and they even have anxiety for your pets.”
Gill said there are no long-term studies showing CBD can remedy any of these issues.
“Any time I hear a claim that's a panacea like that, you really start to wonder what can be that effective, but the studies just aren't there,” said Gill.
Gill said while the studies aren't there to show long-term benefits of CBD, he said the placebo effect is a very real thing.
“I think some people just feel better because they are treating themselves and doing something for a problem that hasn't been addressed in some other way,” said Gill.
Mayo Clinic lists several potential side effects to CBD, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue. The I-TEAM asked Dr. Gill if there were any potential dangers in CBD oil.
“There have been some concerns about women taking it when they are pregnant, but other than that, I haven't seen any claims that it's causing any harm,” said Gill.
Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly is concerned with how easy it is for anyone to buy CBD. Only pharmacies are limited to items approved by the Food and Drug Administration. A lot of gas stations and convenience stores even sell CBD oil.
“If you buy it at an unreputable spot, you may not know what you're getting. We've had some reports from parents that children were using it and getting high,” said Connolly.
Earlier this year, investigators in Florence arrested two men for selling CBD at gas stations with too much THC. It's why Connolly warns it's important to know what you're buying and where.
“We have looked at some of the paperwork that comes with it and found it's not based in fact, so it's unreliable, so you get that at your peril unless you are buying it from someone reputable,” said Connolly.
Roberts agreed with Connolly and said that's why his products are independently lab-tested. He also doesn't make any promises CBD oils work, but believes it worked for him and his business is booming.
“The quality is there. The purity is there and ours comes from Colorado,” said Roberts.
Roberts said people are buying into the fad of CBD oils, so it seems the trend might be sticking around.