Since the state of Ohio legalized cannabinoidoil (CBD) sales, stores offering the marijuana and hemp-based product have proliferated.
Now, CBD oils derived from hemp can be sold in Ohio outside the medical marijuana program, according to the State Medical Board of Ohio.
But what is CBD good for and who can use it?
Two CBD retailers in Tallmadge and Canton/Kent
Two area stores selling CBD products — Purely CBD, which has a location in Canton and will open a store in Kent at 1705 E. Main St. on Tuesday, and Seven Grains in Tallmadge — have slightly different approaches to the products.
“As you know, medical marijuana is legal here in Ohio, and people are taking it for pain and anxiety and things of that nature,” said Lance Jones, franchise owner of the Kent and Canton Purely CBD stores.
He said, and Seven Grains co-owner Gina Krieger agreed, CBD can help a variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, depression and more.
“I have RNs come in all the time who use themselves, or get it for their husbands or wives,” said Krieger. “There is research that says, ‘Yes, there are benefits to it.’ There’s also been research that shows it helps people get off opioid addiction.”
She said CBD’s calming effects can take the edge off for people with opioid addictions. She said it’s also been used to help treat attention deficit disorder in children.
“My father is 86; he takes it every day, and it’s helped him dramatically,” said Krieger. “Other success stories are from people who come in here every day and tell us they’re down from 20 medications to taking just two after taking CBD.”
Seven Grains also includes a variety of vitamins, supplements and organic, clean food, and the CBD products take up just a small percentage of shelf space; however, Purely CBD sells only CBD products.
“Our average demographic is 55-year-old and older women,” said Jones. “If you get a product at somewhere like a gas station or local vape shop, you don’t know exactly what’s in that product. When you get a product from Purely CBD, you know exactly what that product is.”
Jones said all the products he sells are lab tested for THC levels before packing to ensure labels advertising “broad spectrum” or “full spectrum” CBD are accurate. “Broad spectrum” products have no THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, which is also still regulated federally. On the other hand, “full spectrum” products have THC up to the federal limit of .3%.
Using “broad spectrum” products may work better for employees subject to random drug testing, explained Jones.
If patients are truly interested in the curative qualities of CBD oil, why bother with “full spectrum” products?
“Perhaps the CBD works better with the THC,” said Jones.
Krieger, who sells only PlusCBD products, agrees that is the case. Philosophically, she also prefers to sell pure products from her store, and said what Jones calls “broad spectrum” products most likely require turpenes, an additive that works with the CBD.
According to PurelyCBD.net, the terpenes also add help improve the taste of CBD products.
For example, Jones said his broad spectrum gummies are among his most popular products.
“For some reason, CBD and melatonin just happen to work well together,” he said of the mix included in the gummies. “Those gummies just fly off our shelves; it’s repeat customers.”
Purely CBD offers gummies, tinctures, lotions, coffee, massage oils, pet tinctures, bath bombs, capsules, water solubles and honey steaks, according to Jones. Dosages range from around 300 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams. High dosages of 1,500 and 3,000 milligrams are designed for those undergoing cancer treatment, he added.
Krieger said her products, partially because they have THC, feature smaller dosages ranging from 2 milligrams to 15 milligrams on the high end. She also said more is not necessarily better because everyone’s endocannabinoid receptors are different.
She also said, as the proprietor of a natural food store, she takes very seriously the sourcing of the CBD products she sells.
“Most hemp is sprayed with glyphosate,” she said. “Where is the hemp from that you’re extracting CBD oil from? Who is extracting it? These are all questions we ask as natural food stores. We know how it can be done to shortcut or maximize profits. When it’s done that way, it compromises integrity.”
A matter of perspective: two doctors’ views
Now that CBD is unambiguously legal in Ohio, questions surrounding its effectiveness become more important.
Two doctors seem to view the research from two different perspectives. Dr. Ryan Marino of University Hospitals’ Cleveland Medical Center and Dr. Glenn Copeland, chief executive officer of Copeland Biosciences which is based in Toronto, both agree the research into the effectiveness of CBD products is not conclusive.
“This does seem to be an active area of research,” said Marino. “There have been studies that don’t show conclusive benefits. If people have a trustworthy source, there’s probably very little downside to using actual CBD itself.”
He said he views CBD products as occupying a similar space in treatment of conditions as essential oils.
“Essential oils don’t really have any scientific data that they treat any specific condition,” said Marino. “[CBD] is definitely a very growing economic area; there’s lots of money to be made.”
While Copeland agrees there aren’t many large-scale studies demonstrating clearly the benefits of CBD oil, he said “there’s another side to medicine.”
“That’s the anecdotal side,” he said. “We’ve used many things in medicine because people told us it works.”
Aspirin is a perfect example. When it was discovered, he said, doctors didn’t understand why it helped with fever and blood-clotting; they just knew it did. With CBD, the situation is similar; whether there’s something about the product that helps with certain conditions or it’s a placebo effect is uncertain, but anecdotally, there’s evidence the product works. The key for him: there appears to very limited downside to using CBD, particularly in topical form.
He also said CBD use appears to work well in conjunction with other treatments, including laser therapy and high energy shock waves.
Among professional athletes he knows who’ve used CBD, he said about two of three have experienced positive results while one of three has not.
Copeland also said CBD with THC seems to work a bit faster than products without it.
Human Resources quandary
The regulatory environment surrounding CBD makes life for company owners complicated, with CBD being legal at the federal level with up to .3% THC, marijuana being illegal and the presence of illegal, recreational smoking.
Gary Pellegrino Sr., president of Natural Essentials in Aurora, said he operates his business as a drug-free workplace. For him, that means alcohol, heroin and a variety of other drugs, including marijuana, are forbidden. However, CBD and medical marijuana make things distinctly complicated for him and other business owners.
“If you test positive for THC, the first time you’re going to meet with an officer who’s going to sit down and talk about usage,” he said. “If you test positive for THC the second time around, you’re terminated.”
Because THC is detectable for long after its use, Pellegrino said he waits at least 45 days after the first positive test to administer the second one.
The difficulty THC tests present in the current regulatory environment is there’s no way to determine whether a positive test is due to recreational marijuana (which is illegal at the federal and state levels), medical marijuana (illegal at the federal level and legal now at the state level with a prescription) or a CBD product including THC.
Those taking medical marijuana must provide a copy of a prescription and stay home until they’re off the medication and then add 45 days, he explained. That works for employees on medical marijuana for short periods, but not for those who are treating chronic pain.
Dr. Diane DeRubertis, a professor with Kent State University’s College of Business and a human resources consultant to companies, said she generally advises companies to run drug-free workplaces.
“Most people are advising employers to stick with their drug-free programs and implement some sort of marijuana policy,” she said. “In that structure, individuals have the chance go through rehab and come back to the workplace.”
She said the patchwork of state and federal regulations governing marijuana and CBD is becoming “very complex.”
“When THC comes up positive, it just says you have some in your system; we don’t know how much,” said DeRubertis. “There really isn’t a separation of medical marijuana and recreational use. Nobody says, ‘Well, this is medical and that’s recreational;’ it’s still marijuana.”
Pellegrino said the reason for that is the potential impairment that could result from use, medical or otherwise. Safety for his workers is his bottom line.
DeRubertis said she would like to see marijuana taken off the federal Schedule 1 drug, which places it currently alongside heroin and Oxycontin.
Pellegrino, who is beginning to develop two CBD products in case he’s sometime able to sell them across state lines to major retailers, said he would like to see decisions made at the federal level to legalize interstate commerce. He also would like to see decisions regulating the amount of THC and CBD in products. For help with the human resources issues, he said he would like to know clearly at what levels people taking marijuana or CBDs are impaired, similar to how blood-alcohol tests work for alcohol.
DeRubertis said she believes research into a more precise testing device which measures percentages of THC in the system is in development. In the meantime, she said companies, for now, are prevailing in the courts in cases involving drug use in the workplace. A clear policy has, to date, been good enough protection against lawsuits, she explained.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, firstname.lastname@example.org or @bobgaetjens_rpc.