CBD Oil – What is It? Is it Legal? What are the Benefits and the Risks?

I’d heard about CBD oil for arthritis but hadn’t really done much research into it until our dog, Cosmo, developed issues with his leg which may require surgery. As we do with any major decision (and some minor ones!),  Larissa and I are doing a lot of research about his condition, including treatment options, before we choose a course of action for our precious boy.

To this end, I wrote a post on Facebook asking friends and family for vet recommendations so we can get a second opinion. Among the recommendations posted from several friends suggesting that I look into CBD oil to help Cosmo with his pain.

Before you read on to learn more, please note that the information we provide on health topics should not be used as medical advice. We are not medical professionals. We encourage you to discuss all health issues with your doctor or other qualified medical professionals.

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What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is a non-intoxicating (non-psychoactive) extract from the cannabis plant. It’s essentially the hemp plant without the mind-altering effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

CBD oil is different from hemp oil. Hemp oil is taken from the seeds of the hemp plant, whereas CBD oil is made from hemp flowers, leaves, and stalks.

CBD has been used as an effective treatment for a variety of diseases and ailments such as mental health issues, sleep issues, childhood epilepsy (and other forms of epilepsy), and as an anti-inflammatory for pain relief.


How Does CBD Oil Work?

The human body produces certain cannabinoids on its own. These cannabinoids have two receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are present throughout the body and brain. In the brain, they help regulate pain, emotions, anxiety disorders, movement, appetite, and other brain functions. CB2 receptors reduce inflammation and chronic pain.

Researchers initially thought that CBD attached itself to these receptors, but now believe that CBD simply enhances the body’s own endocannabinoid system by helping the body make more of its own cannabinoids. This is just another example of how plants help our bodies heal themselves!


How is CBD Oil Used?

Common ways to use include:

  • Inhalation (like vaping through vape pod systems or smoking via joints or bongs)
  • Topically (creams, lotions, salves)
  • Sublingually (under the tongue)
  • Ingestion (typically in recipes incorporating CBD oil like CBD drawn butter or CBD-infused coffee and smoothies. Even CBD craft beer is an option!)


Is CBD Oil Legal in All 50 States?

In June of 2018, the federal government (Food and Drug Administration) approved the oral use of CBD as an anti-seizure drug. It is legal if it is produced in accordance with certain federal guidelines. DEA guidelines state that for to be considered legal it must “consist solely of parts of the cannabis plant excluded from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) definition of marijuana.”

At the state level, the Farm Bill (2014) permits states to have some discretion in experimenting with industrial hemp without being considered a controlled substance. Additionally, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act amends the CSA to exclude “industrial hemp”, which is any part of the Cannabis plant with a THC concentration of less than 0.3%.

Despite this, as of 2016 the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still considered CBD oil to be a Schedule 1 drug because it is extracted from parts of the plant that also contain THC. This put it in the same category as heroin, peyote, and LSD. However, in September of 2018, the DEA relaxed its regulation regarding cannabidiol so that CBD oil containing less than 0.1% THC that has been approved by the FDA is no longer considered a Schedule 1 drug.

In short, before using this it’s probably best to check the laws in your state.


What are the Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD Oil?

While there have been many clinical trials involving CBD oil, it is still highly unregulated. This means that anyone can manufacture CBD oil and label it as they see fit. Additionally, due to its relative novelty, there have been no long-term studies to assess the full and lasting effects of CBD oil on humans or animals.


CBD Oil for Pets

Getting back to the original reason I began researching CBD oil, our dog Cosmo, I came across an article on PetMD which stated that CBD oil can be used to treat pets experiencing many of the same ailments for which humans use it. Specifically, for our Cosmo, these included relief from pain and inflammation caused by arthritis, hip dysplasia, and cruciate disease. The article went on to say that the highest known risk for pets (at least at this point) is the possibility of accidental overdose, but that this is rare.

I will note that we did ask our vet about this and he was somewhat reserved about recommending CBD oil due to the lack of regulation and long-term studies.


Will We Be Trying Any CBD Products?

The short answer is, probably not right now. We are extremely cautious about jumping into things of this nature with ourselves and with our pets. With respect to Cosmo particularly, I’m concerned that if the CBD oil works for him by relieving his pain, it may actually hurt him in the long run. Masking the pain could encourage him to run and play harder, which could lead to further injury.  Instead, we are working with him to rest and participate in gentle exercise so that he has a chance to heal, at least in the short term.


Is CBD Oil Right for You or Your Pet?

Good question! As I stated at the beginning of this article, we are not medical professionals and offer no medical advice. What we do offer is information, and always encourage you to conduct your own research and work with your doctors to find what works best for you.


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