Blog Post

Are Websites that Claim to Ship CBD Oil to Non-medical Marijuana States Legit?

Dr. Malik Burnett and Amanda Reiman, PhD, MSW

Dear Doctors,

I live in Oklahoma, where there is no access to medical cannabis. My 10 year-old son has epilepsy and I really want to try CBD. I did a Google search and came up with a bunch of sites that claim to provide CBD oil and that they will ship it to Oklahoma. Is this true? Is this the same CBD product I have heard about in the news?

Wondering parent

Dear Wondering,

Thank you for your question. We have been getting a lot of questions about the CBD oil advertised on the internet. You are right to be concerned.

The cannabis plant, and everything in it, is illegal under federal law. And even in states where it is legal, it is not legal to ship cannabis products from state to state, or to leave the state with such a product.

The CBD oils that are advertised online and that say they are legal to ship to non-medical cannabis states, are not made from the same type of cannabis plant as the CBD products in medical cannabis states.

There are three types of cannabis - indica, sativa and ruderalis. While all three produce cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, cannabis ruderalis (also referred to as hemp) does not contain them in a high enough concentration to have a therapeutic effect. Because hemp products are legal to import to the U.S. and ship from state to state (although growing the hemp plant is federally illegal), companies are taking large amounts of hemp plants and processing them harshly to try and derive enough CBD to call their oil a “CBD product.”

There are a few issues here. First, there are no standards for what makes a “CBD product.” In fact, recently, the FDA issued a warning to companies selling these products, like CBD oil, with false claims of effectiveness.

Second, there is no testing required to confirm that the CBD product has the amount of CBD in it that the makers claim. But this lack of testing goes beyond just inaccurate levels of CBD. The process of extracting CBD from such a large amount of plant matter requires the use of harsh chemicals. The more plant matter needed to extract the CBD, the higher the likelihood that some of those chemicals remain in the product. This is worrisome when giving the product to someone with an illness.

But, CBD also has amazing potential when the product is created from the cannabis indica or sativa varieties with the proper extraction processes. A recent study from Israel showed that CBD in its natural form as a whole plant extract is superior over a single, synthetic CBD compound for treating illness. The plant has continually outperformed synthetic versions in research studies.

So, back to your issue of living in a state that does not allow access to medical cannabis at all. While it might seem like a life preserver, I would avoid ordering CBD oil and other products online.

There are many support groups for children with epilepsy whose parents are using medical cannabis, such as this forum run through the Epilepsy Foundation. Connecting with them can be a great resource for staying on top of the developments with CBD and the other therapeutic cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.


The Doctors

Dr. Malik Burnett is a former surgeon and physician advocate. He also served as executive director of a medical marijuana nonprofit organization. Amanda Reiman, PhD, holds a doctorate in Social Welfare and teaches classes on drug policy at the University of California-Berkeley.

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