UCSD Researchers Evaluate Risks for Cannabidiol

UCSD Researchers Evaluate Risks for Cannabidiol

Sepand Rouz

The Center for Medical Cannabis Research at UC San Diego has been researching the risks and unclaimed benefits of using Cannabidiol, which is more commonly known as CBD. Recent findings from the CMBR have found a wave of interest regarding internet searches and unregulated tests regarding CBD oils.

Since Proposition 215 passed in 1996, medical marijuana has been accessible to medicinal users without any penalties. Following 2016’s Proposition 64 that legalized marijuana for everyone in California, research regarding both medical and recreational use of the drug has been on the rise. 

Currently, the CMBR awarded five teams grants to research a variety of different uses for CBD oils, including to treat cases of arthritis, alcohol dependence, and the abuse of other substances. 

More studies are being planned by the CMBR to see the benefits of CBD oils in a controlled research environment. Igor Grant, the director of CMBR, has pushed towards more research opportunities regarding the benefits of CBD oils.

“Within the medical community, there is a lot of interest in the role of medical cannabis and CBD,” Grant said. “There is a hope that it could be yet another useful agent in some of these conditions, which are difficult to treat or disabling.”

Concern surrounding the benefits of CBD oils are starting to make the public interested in investing and trying out CBD oils at home for various illnesses. According to another UCSD study, CBD oils are being used to treat both alcohol dependence and physical pain illnesses like arthritis.  

The Food and Drug Branch of the California Department of Public Health allows food to be sold with marijuana contents, which makes it easier for people to get access to CBD oils without a prescription.

With more access to CBD oils, people are more interested in trying this method for various conditions. According to a study by UCSD, people are more willing to try out CBD oils and marking it as the “cure-all drug.” However, researchers at Harvard University state that there are health benefits to using CBD oils, but it is not by any means a cure-all drug.

Even with this mixed information, there has been a massive increase in searches regarding the usage of CBD from 2017 to 2019.

John W. Ayers, Vice Chief of Innovation in the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health at UCSD, voices how the public has gotten more interested in researching CBD oils for medical purposes. 

“CBD has become insanely popular,” Ayers said. “Three years ago, there was essentially no one searching about CBD online, but now there are an estimated 6.4 million unique searches each month.”

The main area of concern with CBD oil is that people are trying it in place of conventional medicine, with no indication if the oil is working. While CBD oils have benefits in treating seizures in children with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, when it comes to pain relief, CBD oils need to be tested further to see if it is a viable option.

At this time, UCSD recommends not to try CBD as a replacement for medicine in cases that haven’t been tested in a clinical trial.

Artwork by Allyson Llacuna for the UCSD Guardian.