‘It’s become this sensation.’ What is CBD oil and where can you find it in Centre County?

These are the differences between CBD, THC oils

CBD and THC oils, derived from hemp or marijuana, are being used medically in the U.S. Their uses and legality vary; watch this video to learn more.
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CBD and THC oils, derived from hemp or marijuana, are being used medically in the U.S. Their uses and legality vary; watch this video to learn more.

While CBD products surge in popularity across the country, Centre County shops are expanding their offerings to include the hemp-derived products that proponents say can help a variety of ailments.

THC and cannabidiol are the most prominent chemical compounds found in cannabis, though each have different effects.

THC gives marijuana users the “high,” while CBD is non-intoxicating and is typically added to oils, mixed into creams and lotions and sold in candies and liquid drops, according to Brian Piper, assistant professor of neuroscience at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

The vast majority of CBD is extracted from hemp, not marijuana, according to Nature’s Pantry owner Michele Briggs. Marijuana has “really low levels” of CBD, but is abundant in THC. Hemp is the exact opposite, Briggs said.

President Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill into law in December, giving Pennsylvanians the opportunity to grow hemp commercially. The legislation legalized industrial hemp production and removed it from the list of controlled substances.

The state Department of Agriculture has received more than 300 applications to grow industrial hemp since December, though it has not yet compiled a list of how many were from Centre County, department spokeswoman Shannon Powers said.

CBD products are sold locally, including at Nature’s Pantry and Valley Vapes in State College. Briggs’ store has sold the products for about two years, while Valley Vapes manager Logan Mangene said the store has sold CBD products for more than one year.

CBD oil products for sale at Nature’s Pantry. Abby Drey

“Stress, arthritis pain, chronic pain and anxiety are the big things that people are using it for,” Briggs said. “It’s become this sensation, but the science is not behind it at this point.”

There are two main areas of CBD research, Piper said.

The first involved the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the use of Epidiolex in June. The drug — used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy — is the only product containing CBD to be approved by the FDA.

The second involves the research of items that are available to the general public, Piper said.

“The line of cannabidiol products that you can purchase on the internet and other places has really questionable quality control,” Piper said. “Because it doesn’t have that quality control, it’s a buyer beware market right now.”

A 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 70% of CBD products were mislabeled.

Briggs said she started researching CBD about five years ago, but only began selling products at Nature’s Pantry when she found a reputable company growing the product. She now sells CBD oils, gummies, teas, honey sticks and topical ointments.

CBD oil products for sale at Nature’s Pantry. Abby Drey

“We did a lot of research before we made a decision about what companies to bring in,” Briggs said. “A couple of the companies we have grow their own strains, so they’re controlling it from the beginning to the end. If the companies we’re buying from are not growing their own, we’re making sure that they’re consistently sourcing hemp.”

The FDA in April announced it sent multiple warning letters to three companies marketing products with “egregious, over-the-line claims” for CBD’s effects on cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia and drug addiction.

“While the availability of CBD products in particular has increased dramatically in recent years, open questions remain regarding the safety considerations raised by their widespread use,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

The most common side effects from using CBD are drowsiness, upset stomach and diarrhea. There is also concern about how CBD interacts with other drugs, Piper said. He urged consumers to tell their health care providers about their use.

The FDA plans to gather more information on the science, manufacturing and sale of cannabis compounds during a public hearing scheduled for May 31.

While she’s not sure how effective CBD truly is, Briggs said she sells a “significant” amount of CBD products. Her colleagues in the industry sell “insane amounts” — more than $300,000 per month — of CBD products, she said.

“I’ve been in this business 25 years,” Briggs said. “There’s never been a product like this in our industry and there never will be another product like this.”

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.