On Friday, June 1, passionate proponents and virulent critics of cannabidiol (CBD) testified before a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel that was convened in Silver Spring, Md. for a long-awaited, hotly anticipated public hearing on CBD. As reported by PBS News Hour, over 120 attendees shared their hopes and concerns over future regulation of CBD in the United States. As health policy correspondent Nicholas Florko notes, “The wide range of participants, from former FDA officials to CBD retailers, didn’t seem to agree on much, except for one point: The status quo wasn’t working, and the FDA had to act fast.”
Current FDA rules prohibit regulation of CBD “dietary supplements”—an expansive product category including CBD tinctures and capsules—and bringing said products safely and successfully to market in the US. Florko’s coverage points out a disconnect between the FDA’s expectations for data reporting, informed by a standard set by established pharmaceutical and medical device companies’ submission of “well-controlled studies.” FDA regulators’ standard questioning—“What exactly is a ‘full spectrum’ hemp oil? How young is too young for exposing consumers to CBD? And is CBD psychoactive?”—of speakers was largely met with insubstantial replies or silence.
Scientists at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus have published new research examining the causes and outcomes of a significant increase in cannabis use by older adults in the state. “Qualitative Analysis of Cannabis Use Among Older Adults in Colorado,” slated for inclusion in the June 2019 issue of peer-reviewed journal Drugs & Aging, identifies “salient themes concerning the use of medical and recreational cannabis by older adults living in Colorado.” To determine the reasons why more older Coloradans are using cannabis and analyze experiential outcomes, researchers conducted 17 focus groups in 15 Colorado cities at health clinics, senior centers and cannabis dispensaries.
Focus group participants included 136 adults older than 60 who use cannabis as well as adults who abstain. Interview transcripts were then coded using computer software and analyzed thematically. Study results revealed five primary themes: “a lack of education and research about cannabis, a lack of provider communication, access to medical cannabis, the outcomes of cannabis use and a reluctance to discuss cannabis use.” Researchers concluded that older adults are better served by being well-informed about cannabis and comfortable communicating about it with healthcare providers; study data also raised concerns about access to cannabis and the stigma that clings to both medical and recreational use.