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You down with CBD? (Yeah you know me!)

By: Sabrina Persuad, Associate, Tampa

Cannabidiol, better known as “CBD”, is becoming increasingly popular and generating quite the buzz. In fact, Naughty by Nature called and changed the lyrics to their 1991 hit “O.P.P.” to “CBD”. I’m kidding.

CBD is a naturally occurring substance found in the bud and flowers of the cannabis plant, including marijuana and hemp; and, unlike its cousin (tetrahydrocannabinol – THC), it produces no psychoactive effect. Now, it’s no secret that there are several medical benefits associated with the consumption or use of CBD and, across the United States, more and more CBD dispensaries are popping up. The compound can easily be found in local smoke shops or ordered online. In fact, I recently discovered a local CBD coffee shop, strategically located in a medical plaza, which sells not only great coffee and typical coffee-shop pastries, but also CBD oils and topical ointments. Big-named pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, recently announced plans to sell CBD creams, patches, and sprays in some stores.

However, the CBD craze on the open market is still fairly new. Prior to December 20, 2018, all forms of cannabis, including hemp, were classified as Schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. This made the growth and interstate transport of hemp illegal. But then, President Trump quietly signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and, essentially, made the growth of hemp legal, causing this “CBD boom”.

Now, if you’ve ever sat through all five hours of our ethics and case law update or our medical marijuana seminar, then you know that when it comes to medical marijuana and workers’ compensation, the waters are a little muddy. With the legalization of hemp, those waters just got muddier; though, the 2018 Farm Bill seems to have hinted to us that it’s only a matter of time before marijuana is legalized at the federal level. Nevertheless, the state legislature made it clear that medical marijuana is not reimbursable under chapter 440, but the question remains as to whether CBD is reimbursable or whether it should even be authorized and paid for.

With CBD and its medical benefits growing in popularity, there is a strong chance that doctors will start recommending CBD-based treatments, such as oils, topical ointments, lotions, creams, sprays, etc. But are you responsible for paying for it? CBD can be found in both marijuana and hemp, and we know that marijuana is not reimbursable under the statute, but what if the CBD being recommended is hemp based? And how do you know that? How do you test it? Do you trust the label on the product that says “hemp based”? Do you go so far as to test for the THC content in the CBD product? Unfortunately, there is no clear cut or right answer right now.

So, who’s down with CBD? (Perhaps not all of the homies.)