Conclusion

CBD demonstrates promise in preclinical research, and numerous pharmaceutical companies are pursuing cannabis-based drug development. Recent regulatory changes have led to the explosion of CBD availability in retail and online markets. The quality and consistency of these CBD products are highly variable, which can lead to efficacy and safety concerns for consumers. In an ideal scenario, CBD products would not be available to consumers until they have been approved by the FDA; however, the genie is out of the bottle and clinicians are seeing an increase in the volume of questions from their patients regarding the use of CBD.

While many issues remain unresolved, CBD appears to be well tolerated and safe. Clinicians must weigh the risks and potential benefits of CBD use in their patients. If clinicians choose to recommend CBD, they should ensure that their patients understand the importance of reputable product sourcing and the possibility of unreported THC content, which can cause positive drug testing among other potential unintended effects.

Cannabis appears to be an exciting new frontier in drug development. The recent shift in public opinion and subsequent legalizations in various states have led to a rapid explosion of use and public adoption, with clinical research lagging behind. The lack of clinical research should not prompt clinicians to be pessimistic but rather cautiously acknowledge that the conclusive evidence is still pending.      

Michael Asbach, MPAS, PA-C, Psy-CAQ is a physician assistant at DENT Neurologic Institute in Amherst, New York. 

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