04/28/2017 12:27 EDT | Updated 04/28/2017 12:27 EDT

Muzzling The Benefits Of CBD-Rich Cannabis Is Censorship

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medical marijuana concept

"CBD cannabis oil has become a really hot commodity lately."

So says Sal Chan, who works at the Green Panda medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Vancouver, which sells a variety of cannabis oils.

In fact, CBD-dominant strains of cannabis are the new go-to remedy for medical marijuana patients who don't want to get "stoned".

That's because therapeutic forms of CBD-rich cannabis are now being bred to be virtually free of the mood-altering chemical, THC.

Yet Canada's federal government is refusing to let the nation's legal cultivators of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis spread the word about the CBD-rich kind.

This is in spite of the fact that the chemical CBD (also known as cannabidiol) provides some of marijuana's most sought-after healing powers, according to medical studies.

This legislative dogma is due to Ottawa's insistence that legal cannabis growers refrain from making any marketing claims about their products -- even with the advent of millions of new, inexperienced users embracing a legal recreational market, starting next summer.

In particular, the government forbids any marketing/advertising about how certain strains of cannabis can treat different medical conditions.

The government says its regressive marketing restrictions are meant to deter minors from being sold on the idea that getting "high" is cool.

So if CBD-rich strains of cannabis won't get teenagers (or anyone else) mentally intoxicated, then why can't their cultivators/vendors point this out to consumers?

This irrational form of censorship is analogous to telling breweries that they can't promote de-alcoholized beer as being a safer, non-intoxicating alternative to their regular beer brands.

Why CBD Deserves Ottawa's Respect, Instead of Ambivalence

Why is it so important to educate the public about the benefits of non-psychoactive CBD-rich cannabis?

Here's why.

CBD-rich cannabis is well-suited to all sorts of people who have to work all day but need to remain clear-headed.

This type of medical marijuana is shown to be especially effective in treating inflammation and chronic pain. Among its many other uses, CBD is therapeutic for treating depression, anxiety, insomnia and nausea.

Even the U.S. federal government foresees a promising future for non-psychoactive medicinal cannabis. Which is why it is financing several dozen clinical trials into the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for a diversity of additional medical conditions. They include Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, opiate addiction, Crohn's disease, schizophrenia and cancer.

All told, CBD-rich cannabis is well-suited to all sorts of people who have to work all day but need to remain clear-headed.

Again, it's asinine that cultivators/vendors aren't allowed to declare on their packaging what each of their CBD-rich products are meant to do, and how they're used to best effect.

Even so, medical marijuana patients are educating themselves as best as they can with the limited information legally available to them.

medical cannabis

At the very least, the government is allowing vendors' packaging to declare the levels of cannabinoids like THC and CBD in the products, as well as the names of the strains and the company's brand.

Nonetheless, what consumers have to find out for themselves includes some pretty important stuff.

For instance, CBD cannabionoids that are distilled/concentrated into an oil-based extract tend to be more medicinally potent that CBD-rich dried flower. Consumers should have a right to know this.

Another key selling point is that ingestible CBD oil is a healthier alternative to inhaling smoked cannabis. Which is because the extraction process for ingestible oils removes all the plant material, including any potential residues from pesticides and/or other contaminants. This is another health-promoting reality that retailers should be allowed to point out to consumers on their products' packaging.

Additionally, the medical benefits of CBD oil last much longer when it's ingested, rather than smoked. In fact, oils that are ingested take much longer for the body to process but can have lasting effects for as many as 10 hours. Yet smoking only delivers physical and/or psychological benefits for an hour or two.

So, for someone with arthritis pain or chronic back pain, it makes more sense to self-medicate with oil, rather than smoking a CBD-rich cannabis joint every couple of hours.

Now it's time for the Trudeau administration to at least let cultivators of CBD-rich cannabis offer up their products as a safer, non-toxic, non-addictive alternative.

CBD oil can be infused into food or taken as a gel capsule or in a tincture, thereby offering a much better delivery method than smoking. This is especially the case in paediatric medicine, where strains of CBD-rich cannabis have been shown to help some children with seizure disorders.

How CBD-Rich Cannabis Can Help End the Opioid Crisis

Chronic pain is the most common ailment for people who buy doctor-approved CBD-rich cannabis. And countless future users may opt to self-medicate without a prescription in a decriminalized, open market.

After all, they merely want a safe, addiction-free alternative to pharmaceutical drugs -- especially dangerous painkilling opioids.

All too often, opioids are over-prescribed by physicians. And they can quickly become very addictive.

Opioids can induce all sorts of other nasty side effects, too. Worst of all, they have been blamed for tens of thousands of suicides across North America.

medical cannabis

Ironically, opioids like the notorious OxyContin have been aggressively marketed by their manufacturers over the past couple of decades in Canada -- all with the government's blessing.

Now it's time for the Trudeau administration to at least let cultivators of CBD-rich cannabis offer up their products as a safer, non-toxic, non-addictive alternative.

But that not likely to happen.

Instead, all-too-many people will continue to get strung-out on opioids. And some will even succumb to unintended lethal overdoses. All the while, most of them will remain unaware of how CBD-rich cannabis is a much safer alternative.

The government needs to re-think its double standard: it acknowledges cannabis as a legitimate medicine (including the non-psychoactive kind), but behaves as though it isn't.

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