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What is CBD oil?

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Indiana law forbids both medical and recreational marijuana, so many might be confused when they see cannabidiol (CBD) products now legally available in medicinal and natural food stores. Both CBD oil and marijuana derive from cannabis, so why is one legal when the other is not?

The answer is that despite coming from the same family of plant, CBD products are different from marijuana. CBD products are an alternative medicine with anecdotal cases suggesting the remedies fight pain, inflammation, anxiety and more. Due to its medicinal properties, many Indianapolis citizens are using and selling CBD to address a variety of symptoms. 

CBD products come from industrial hemp, which contains much lower levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in marijuana that creates a high feeling. CBD products in Indiana cannot legally have more than 0.3% THC. By comparison, the National Institute on Drug abuse said the average amount of THC in marijuana was 9.6% in 2013. 

Due to the lower THC levels, industrial hemp does not impact the mind but often reduces pain and inflammation within 30 minutes of use. People most often ingest CBD by applying drops on the tongue. Ointments, edible items and vape pens are also ways to take CBD.

In addition to physical pain, CBD also relieves anxiety and depression. Amy Sawyer, owner of CBD provider Rooted Scales, first discovered CBD about two years ago. She found CBD addressed her anxiety and insomnia and soon went into business selling it herself.

Sawyer said CBD oil is valuable to groups experiencing both physical and mental stress such as veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD. She even offers a discount to service members and their families.

“A lot of the symptoms people in our service community are facing directly correlate with the benefits of CBD oil,” Sawyer said.

PTSD is not the only neurological disorder CBD can assist with. David Phipps, communications director of Indiana Norml, said CBD oil can help with epilepsy, noting cases where some child patients went from over 100 seizures a day to near zero when they started taking CBD.

“That was pretty much unheard of from their parents, their caretakers, before CBD oil was available,” Phipps said.

Unlike other medication for such disorders, CBD products have no side effects. Sawyer noted how even over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or aspirin can degrade the lining of the stomach and kidneys, while stronger drugs, such as opioids or prescription medication, can be addictive or deadly.

Nichole Lewis, a Rooted Scales customer, appreciates the lack of side effects. Over-the-counter medication made her feel sick while not fully addressing her neck pain and migraines, and Lewis was too afraid to try stronger medication because her aunt developed liver cancer as a result of arthritis medication. Lewis said CBD oil addressed her symptoms without making her feel sick. 

“I really, really wish with all of my heart eight years ago that I knew about any type of CBD oil or this product because I believe she [Lewis’ aunt] would still be here,” Lewis said. 

CBD products are more expensive in Indiana than in other states because while it is legal to sell CBD products it is illegal to grow industrial hemp. Businesses such as Rooted Scales need to buy materials from out of state.

However, this may change soon. In February, the Indiana Senate passed SB 516, a bill that would both allow Hoosiers to grow industrial hemp and create the Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee to monitor and regulate that farming. The bill passed 47 to 1 in the Senate and is currently awaiting review in the House of Representatives. If SB 516 passes, then Sawyer predicted CBD prices should fall. 


Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.

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