An employee inspects the leaf of a cannabis plant at a medical marijuana plantation in northern Israel..
(photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
Israel plays a leading role in ground breaking research on the use of medical cannabis. Right now there is a great sense of achievement: firstly it is attributed to the improvement of symptoms for challenging health issues and secondly, the economic benefit realized by innovators and researchers who worked hard to make a difference in the lives of others.
The use of Cannabidiol skyrocketed since many US states relaxed their laws, thanks to the need among many people to alleviate symptoms associated with a plethora of medical conditions. This co-incided with the massive global trend of vaping, as smokers sought to break with more harmful habits. Off course harmfulness is debatable given the wide range of views on the matter. Nevertheless, combining these two trends into a product offering gave birth to CBD vape oil. Due to the long list of potential health benefits, the sales and marketing of a list of products tightly related to CBD vape oil have sky rocketed in the US and worldwide.
To see some of the latest examples of how the market keeps evolving, we used one of the leading supplier aggregators for multiple brands that consist of a wide range of CBD Vape Oil and E Liquid
on display in the US. The list is long – more than 50 distinct sub categories of products are out there. With any new phenomenon in health, risks and benefits are weighed up against each other. On that basis, Doctors decide whether or not to recommend the use of ground breaking products and individual countries and states decide on whether to allow it. With safety taking a priority over profits, there are some challenges the industry is faced with as we discuss below.
Research on health benefits evolved faster than the law:
Just five years ago, the thought of such a long list of new innovating health products was inconceivable. Who thought that a substance that was once illegal will turn out to treat seizures, inflammation, pain, psychosis or mental disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and other health problems? For this reason, many consumers have questions on product safety which are not widely addressed by typical and credible information sources: it is still a new phenomenon. Then, there is the law, which often moves slower than innovation. The legality of CBD is not derived from a blanket federal arrangement, but rather based on states that created an exception to legalize it’s use.
The impact of this? Given the slow rate of change in US federal laws, Doctors cannot write a prescription. All they do is to recommend the use of it or tell patients about brands that they perceive as trustworthy. Most pharmacies do not sell it over the counter hence it is ordered online. Health insurance does not cover CBD treatment, but they are starting to allow the use of health savings accounts for the payment of CBD.
The responsibility to educate:
For innovators of health products that are meant to improve the lives of many, there is an added responsibility to educate and advise against occurrences that risk undoing any recent progress that was made. Indeed the usual advise is to consult a Doctor who is familiar with the risks and benefits of CBD and your own needs as a patient. However, problems seem to arise when the consumer habits of shop and compare takes over. Firstly, people are starting to experiment with products that are not approved, and secondly, retailers distribute products that may contain unlawful ingredients per the example below. Rogue players are making inroads:
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Things have taken an unexpected twist in the US as some players in the market may have gone rogue: Recently, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics released a public warning about this. It would seem that there were isolated incidents in the Jackson area, where vape oils contained Fentanyl. For a non-suspecting individual who seek to alleviate the symptoms of an underlying medical condition with CBD oil, an encounter with Fentanyl is dangerous - clearly the last thing they need. Fortunately it seems that regulators are moving fast to confiscate products that contain unlawful substances. It is however not inconceivable that someone who received a recommendation by their Doctor, walk into one of these shops and buy an inferior product or one of which the suppliers have gone rogue. For this reason, education and consumer prudence is needed as one cannot rely 100% on health inspectors to act as a safety net. Conclusion:
Every day we hear about more ground-breaking innovation in the health sector. Indeed it is heartwarming to think that people with chronic diseases can find non-addictive and far less harmful solutions to treat their symptoms. However, researchers and medical professionals who are passionate about working for any good cause, should also take up the responsibility to educate consumers. This will help to avoid falling into the hands of profiteers that use CBD as a vehicle to promote and sell other unlawful (or harmful) substances. Redistributing a portion of the profits derived from health innovation to promote safer consumption through education may well be the way forward.
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