It’s not okay to say or imply CBD products help cancer victims. The FDA recently delivered written warnings of product seizure and injunctions to several online cannabidiol (CBD) supplements retailers. Ordering any website, shopping cart, or social media claims that these preparations reverse, kill, cure, or fight cancer cells or tumors and help other serious diseases be removed. The agency made its actions public with a November 1st press release. Failure to comply could cost these companies everything.
No doubt, there are those within the medical cannabis industry who see this as unwarranted. But the FDA hasn’t reviewed CBD as a treatment for, or cure of, cancer. Initiating such an event begins with a pharmaceutical company requesting a review. And that’s not going to happen for a long time. Research on CBD’s effects on cancer cells and tumors is largely still in the preclinical trial phase. And when it does, the compound will likely be isolated to within an inch of life, or a synthetic facsimile thereof.
Handwriting on the wall?
This CBD thing reminds me of the aspartame/NutraSweet vs. stevia saga. The battle over calling stevia extractions a sweetener in the US began in the 1970s. The FDA continued banning stevia as a sweetener until after Monsanto sold NutraSweet (2000). Yes, we’re talking about the harmless little Stevia plant growing in herb gardens all over the country.
The FDA sent similar letters. They seized stevia products and cookbooks. Companies were forced out of business. But things started changing in the mid-2000s. Suddenly, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo came up with an extraction that met with the FDA’s approval. Stevia sweeteners first appeared in soft drinks. Finally followed by home-use sweeteners stocked in grocery store baking aisles next to sugars.
The agency seems to find natural substances more a threat to human safety than chemical preparations and highly refined extractions. Despite stevia being used as a herbal sweetener and simple extraction (almost globally) for many years. Despite hundreds of studies attesting to its safety. It took decades just to arrive at the ‘safe as a dietary supplement’ level in the US. Obviously, the FDA has herbal hang-ups. Or the interests that lobby for preferred decisions do. Starting to see any similarities to the handling of CBD products?
But the FDA never did approve stevia for use in foods or as a sweetener, as Wikipedia states, “However, the FDA said that these products are not stevia, but a highly purified product.” Only by isolating a single Stevia leaf compound, Rebaudioside A (a.k.a. Rebiana), was it possible to gain approval for using stevia as a sweetener in processed foods and your sugar bowl. And it took major corporations to accomplish that. Why? Supposedly, only inadequate toxicological data on the Stevia plant exists. So, compare CBD, a derivative of the cannabis plant, to stevia, a herb that has yet to give me even the slightest buzz despite heavy daily consumption!
Unlike sugar, a universal creator of intoxicating beverages, stevia doesn’t ferment. Cannabis, however, is a Schedule 1 narcotic. Yes, I know, CBD is non-psychoactive. And these are just two of the over eighty intriguing compounds already discovered in the cannabis plant. Thanks to about seven decades of prohibition, very little is known about this complex herb. That is, beyond the highly controversial effects of lighting up and inhaling. Some states that have legalized medical marijuana only allow CBD product use, which tells you how un-intoxicating the compound is.
In fact, cannabidiol’s benefits for a range of health issues and diseases are so exciting, they inspired one pharmaceutical worker to go back to school for degrees in biology and chemistry. A feature about Mary Minchin’s highly interesting book, CBD Made Easy, appeared in our US/CA Issue 12. Among the excerpts in that article, you’ll learn that science has already conducted over 15,000 studies on CBD. Among them, research on its effectiveness with various kinds of cancer. So, it’s not like evidence pointing to its positive effects on cancer and malignant tumors, doesn’t exist.
The FDA claims the safety of CBD is unknown, but how safe is a cancer victim? No one has ever died from using cannabis, but many have died and will die from cancer. Even after following the approved regimen of cancer treatments and cures. Is this one more example of protecting industry interests? Let’s not forget that major drug companies have yet to present a CBD-based drug for FDA approval.
However, not all CBD product makers have accurate labels and proper levels of quality control. There are no regulations that spell out or enforce protocols to conform to. But it’s hard to establish a trustworthy structure given the patchwork legal/illegal landscape that surrounds cannabis in the US. Perhaps using ‘cancer killer’ as a marketing tactic at this point is putting the cart ahead of the horse. Especially since the authorities will just step in and bankrupt you, or levy a permanent injunction.
And it’s only a matter of time before some huge pharmaceutical company jumps into the fray. Or alters the landscape completely. With the first marijuana production research paper published in a science journal last month, change is on its way. Exactly what it looks like, only time will tell. Time, the one thing most cancer victims do not have.