When Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Enrolled Act 52 into law in March of this year, he ended a fierce debate and legal limbo over cannabidiol use in Indiana.
In the ensuing months, sellers of CBD flooded the state and made their products available everywhere from natural health stores to gas stations, with many setting up shop to specialize in the product alone.
CBD is big business, and Indianapolis is now one of its fastest growing markets. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of knowledge to go along with the flood of product.
WHAT IS CBD?
For many years, CBD has been touted as beneficial in treating common health issues that range from anxiety to acne with added benefits as a natural alternative for pain relief. Those claims were largely ignored outside of natural remedy communities, however, primarily because of the association with marijuana and the perception that there couldn’t possibly be legitimate medical usage or benefits.
Attitudes and laws have changed, however, and scientific studies are now beginning to release data that supports many of these claims. Medical professionals are recommending CBD to many of their patients, and it’s quickly becoming available in more mainstream locations.
In the past, much of the opposition to CBD has come from ignorance and the belief that cannabis, hemp, and marijuana are the same thing. They are not.
Here’s the simplest way to understand and explain it:
Cannabis is a family of plants most commonly classified as either Indica or Sativa.
Hemp and marijuana are both members of the Cannabis sativa family.
While they share similarities, they are two distinct plants with distinct properties.
Both hemp and marijuana contain Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” effect; and Cannabidiol (CBD) non-psychoactive compound which does not get you “high.”
Marijuana is high in THC and low in CBD.
Hemp is high in CBD and low in THC.
A plant must contain less than .3 percent of THC to be considered hemp.
Only hemp-derived CBD is legal in Indiana.
In summary, over-the-counter CBD products are made from hemp and contain only trace amounts of THC. In other words, no one is getting “high” or “buzzed” from CBD.
If they tell you otherwise, they’re the same kind of person who claimed to be buzzed in high school after drinking O’Doul’s.
There a variety of claims being made about the benefits of CBD, and I’m not here to dispute any of them (except the claim that it’ll get you high).
The majority of people I’ve encountered have used it as a natural tool for managing anxiety, and their results have been mixed. But I’ve also heard from people who’ve used it manage pain, nausea, and even appetite with good results. If you are thinking of trying it, ask around. Odds are someone you know is already trying it and can make some good recommendations.
Over the past month, I’ve tried CBD as a tool for managing generalized anxiety. For me, it has turned out to be a genuinely effective sleep aid and something I’ll continue using and touting the benefits of.
It took awhile to navigate that path to success, however. Figuring out what kind to take, how often to take it, and how to take it took some trial and error and more patience than I typically have.
If you are buying CBD in Indiana, you are buying hemp-derived CBD and your only real choices are organic or industrial. In both cases, there may little to go on beyond those two words, so you will have to decide how important that distinction is to you.
Because it has been illegal for American farmers to grow hemp in most parts of the country until recently, the vast majority of hemp and hemp-derived products like CBD are grown outside of the U.S.
Industrial hemp, as it is known, has very little federal oversight particularly if you are taken it internally as a medicine. Pesticides, herbicides, bad soil contamination--you name it and it’s a possibility with industrial hemp of unknown origin.
For now, your safest bet is to choose organic hemp products. Because so few international sources are going to be organic, you can be pretty sure an organic CBD product is coming from the U.S.
If you are ordering online, you can often buy directly from the grower and manufacturer and determine the source of origin and type of growing operation before making a purchase. If you are shopping in person, don’t hesitate to ask the sales clerk at the CBD or smoke shop to show you organic CBD products. If they don’t have them, go elsewhere.
Because there is so little research or established best practices where CBD is concerned, it can be really difficult to know how much to take. You are unlikely to find any concrete recommendation based on more than anecdotal evidence.
This means there’s going to be some trial and error when you first start out, so account for that. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and adjust your dosage up or down to achieve the desired effects.
A good rule of thumb is to estimate your dosage by body weight. Start with 1-8 mg for every 10 pounds of body weight. So if you weigh 150 lbs or less, you probably want to start with 50-100 mg or less a day. If you weigh 300 lbs, you might need 150-200 mg before CBD is effective for you.
Because you aren’t getting a “high” from CBD, you aren’t likely to have serious side effects beyond drowsiness (or maybe a slight stomach ache if those gummies don’t sit right).
If you are serious about using CBD for health purposes, seek out a retailer with more knowledge than the local kid at the gas station. Several local retailers specialize only in CBD and have spent years working with clients to find what works best. Many local health food stores or natural product stores have CBD oil and employees with more experience recommending them.
Local vape and smoke shops also have a good stock of CBD oil products available, as well as friendly staff. These fine folks will be happy to sell you the products, but typically don’t have more insight into what you need for your specific ailments than what you’re going to find by googling ‘cbd oil.’
There are four main ways to use CBD: capsules, edibles, tincture, and vaping. Each comes with benefits and drawbacks. Again, there is a lot of ambiguity about which method is recommended for your specific needs. For the best results, you should try a variety of methods and see what works for you.
The capsule method is pretty straight forward, you figure out how much you want to take and pop a pill, much like you would a vitamin supplement. You can buy capsules at various dosage levels, but it’s fairly common for people to take a 25 or 50 mg dose in the morning and another in the evening. Convenience and precise dosage are the benefits of capsules, but some people have difficulty swallowing capsules or simply don’t like a big dosage all at once. There is also a slower release of the active ingredients, meaning you aren’t likely to feel relief from whatever ails you for a while.
Gummies are the biggest type of CBD edible you’re likely to kind. Most come in 25 or 50 mg doses, and you eat them just like you would candy. Shopping locally, gummies were the only CBD product that I didn’t easily find available as organic. In nearly all cases, they were made from industrial hemp and contained little or no information about the origin of the product or the manufacturer.
I ate them anyway, as did several other NUVO staffers over the past few weeks, and our take-away was fairly mixed. We all felt like there was a weird stomach thing that accompanied their ingestion, and most of us didn’t feel any effect beyond a general “relaxed” feeling that may or not have been related. Our results were inconclusive at best. You can also find things like “honey sticks” or other liquids. In these cases, they are going to be a mix of syrupy/sugary something and industrial hemp.
CBD oil tincture has been a winner for me. A big plus is that organic tincture is widely available and feels like the most natural method for trying CBD. I’ve spent much of the past month putting a dropper full under my tongue about an hour before I want to go to sleep and it has worked. Really worked. Like, I can’t think of anything that has worked better in terms of helping me fall asleep and not wake up until the alarm goes off the next morning.
And I’m not the only one. A cursory survey of my friends (online and in-person) turned up more than a handful who are swearing by it. On the other hand, several others said they had tried it and it hadn’t worked for them. So results vary.
I tried the tincture in the morning, as well, thinking it would be a good “all-day” anxiety counter-measure, and I’m not sure about the results.
It was effective on mornings that I woke up feeling overwhelmed by that day’s to-do-list. Within 30 minutes, I could feel a lot of that stress melt away rather than increase. But some days, it also made me feel a little groggy. It was cold and rainy some of those days, so there were other factors contributing. Overall, however, I didn’t like “dosing” in the morning and at night with the tincture.
Vaping is the fourth option, and it’s a good one too.
The big difference between tincture that you place under your tongue and the stuff you put in your vape pen is that the vape pen liquid is cut with vegetable oil or some type of glycerin to keep your pen working.
You’re also getting the vaped CBD in much smaller increments rather than all at once. In general, you’d have to inhale about 20-30 hits from the pen to get the same amount as a dropper of tincture.
There is also plenty of evidence to show that vaping has many of the same health risks associated with smoking in general. There may be increased risks due to the heated metals and unknown ingredients of vape liquid, to boot.
Having said that, this was a winner for me too, albeit a rather impractical one for most people. There are probably plenty of jobs where you can’t walk around vaping CBD all day and call it research.
For about two weeks, I used the vape pen throughout the day and could generally feel it working. My overall anxiety and stress levels seemed reduced, but not my alertness.
As a smoker, just having the simple act of vaping may have also worked as a placebo effect. The increased inhaling and exhaling, and hoping the CBD was working some magic cure, could have heightened my response.
But I’ll probably keep doing it.
If you’re someone who regularly smokes weed to manage anxiety and stress, that’s not an option during work hours. Vaping CBD on your smoke break may be a realistic and effective alternative for you.
You aren’t going to smell like weed, you probably aren’t going to fail a drug test, and no one can tell the difference between vaping tobacco or CBD just by looking.
Bottom line, CBD has legitimate medical benefits for many people. You just have to be willing to do some research, adjust your dosage and delivery to find what suits you best, and endure the lame jokes from knuckleheads who will inevitably ask if you have the munchies.
You can find CBD products widely around Indianapolis. From health food stores like Good Earth and Georgetown Market, to smoke shops like 20 Past Four and Magic Bus. Here are 10 shops/retailers to get you started:
20 Past 4 and More, 3433 Madison Ave
CBD American Shaman Indy, 912 E. Westfield Blvd.
CBD Health of Indiana, 954 State Road 135 (Greenwood)
Georgetown Market, 4375 Georgetown Rd
Good Earth, 6350 Guilford Ave
Happy Daze Smoke Shop, 6450 W. 10th St.
Higher Life CBD Dispensary, 901 N Pennsylvania St
Indiana CBD Wellness, 1323 W. 86th St.
Indy CBD Plus, 5144 Madison Ave.
The Magic Bus, 1073 Broad Ripple Ave.
Owlslee CBD, 435 Virginia Ave.
Tillberry’s Vape and Smoke Shop, 1022 Virginia Ave.
There's not a lot of hard science where CBD is concerned, but many studies are underway. If you're interested in reading more, check out these links:
Cannabidiol (CBD) — What we know and what we don’t (Harvard Medical School)
Cannabidiol: Promise and Pitfalls (American Epilepsy Society)
Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol (National Institute of Drug Abuse)