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Using CBD & Other Hemp Products? You're Not Alone, Study Finds
  • Posted December 14, 2023

Using CBD & Other Hemp Products? You're Not Alone, Study Finds

The market for cannabidiol (CBD) and other products derived from the hemp plant is now wide open in the United States, but that could bring danger to consumers, the authors of a new report warn.

Many people may not realize it, but there's a largely legal market for products derived from hemp, which has a much lower content of the active ingredient found in the cannabis plant, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (better known as THC).

This legal market arose after the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp-derived cannabinoids from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

These hemp products are defined as containing less than 0.3 percent THC.

Now, a new study from the University of Michigan finds consumers quickly took advantage of the legislation.

In addition, "while the de-scheduling of hemp products initially opened up the market for CBD products, it also applies to the 100-plus cannabinoids also found in the plant," noted study lead author Kevin Boehnke.

"That means, as with CBD, all of them can follow that same path and be sold in gas stations, as ingredients in cosmetics, as well as in dispensaries -- there will likely be substantial proliferation of some of these compounds,"Boehnke said in a university news release. He's a research assistant professor of anesthesiology at the university, where he works in the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center.

Just how popular have hemp-based products become?

To find out, the Michigan team analyzed 2023 data from a representative sample of almost 1,200 adults, surveyed by the National Opinion Research Center.

Typical hemp-derived products include those containing CBD, Delta 8-THC, cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN), the researchers explained.

The survey found that while 72% of participants had heard of CBD, fewer fewer had heard of delta-8-THC (41%), CBG (18%), or CBN (17%).

Along the same lines, 21% said they'd used CBD in the past year, compared with 12% for delta-8-THC, 5% for CBG, and 4% for CBN, Boehnke's group said.

The new study was published Dec. 13 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The study also found that if respondents lived in a state where the use of medical or recreational marijuana was still illegal, they were more likely to use legal hemp-derived products.

That's a concern, Boehnke said, since these products face very little regulation or safety monitoring. Some might contain dangerous pesticides or solvents, or may not even contain ingredients that are listed on their labels.

"Not only are people with medical conditions being sold products with uncertain therapeutic effects, but these products may contain contaminants that are harmful,"warned Boehnke.

He also noted that some of the products produce effects not much different from standard marijuana.

"Delta-8-THC [a hemp product] purportedly has quite similar effects to delta-9-THC (better known as THC)," he said. "In other words, there is a loophole where people in states without legal cannabis can get high legally on delta-8-THC. It makes sense then that people who don't have access to regulated markets would be more likely to use it."

More information

Find out more about hemp-derived products at nystate.gov

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, Dec. 13, 2023

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