Controversial hemp products being grown and sold in the East

Published: Dec. 18, 2018 at 5:10 PM EST
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You may know it as CBD. Its technical name is Cannabidiol. CBD comes from cannabis, and it has caught the attention from many for its effectiveness treating seizures.

Now people in Eastern Carolina are turning to CBD products to manage health conditions such as chronic pain and anxiety.

Congress legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp earlier this month in the 2018 Farm Bill, but the legality and effectiveness of CBD is controversial.

One lotion containing CBD does more than moisturize skin. Eddie Saburn has Lymphoma uses it for pain associated with nerve damage from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. "This arm has been unusable for going on three years now," he said. But he says he can now use the arm because of the CBD oil in the lotion.

Pepper Assafi is also CBD user, but admits being very skeptical. Pepper Assafi tried CBD a few months ago to get rid of chronic pain but had one fear, saying "I didn't want anything to make me feel drugged."

But CBD is different from THC which is the active molecule in marijuana that does cause a high. The CBD molecule changes brain activity without the high.

Research shows it can reduce seizures in humans and is anti-inflammatory.

Michelle Edmunson runs a hemp shop in Winterville. She sees customers like Saburn and Assafi all the time. She said, "The majority of our customers that come in here are over 50."

Edmunson has one of many hemp shops opening across North Carolina. Our state joined a hemp pilot program in 2017. It lets farmers grow hemp for fiber and feed.

Some hemp plants are grown at a farm in Lenoir County and Michelle Edmundson says that this could be a new cash crop for the state."500 farmers are able now to start growing hemp and their doing it, which is helping them," she said.

But selling cannabis products like CBD oil as therapeutic products is controversial. The FDA sets its standards as does the DEA and USDA. The lack of consistency can make the rules tough to follow.

North Carolina abides by hemp laws set by congress. It limits the amount of THC in hemp products to point three percent.

Doctor Ken Soderstrom studies Cannabidiol​ at ECU's Brody School of Medicine.

He says people want CBD oil because it helps with pain and seizures without causing a high.

But Dr. Soderstrom has a warning that It's impossible to completely separate CBD from THC and that means even at point 3 percent, it could show up on a drug test.

"No drug is a safe drug to use. Is it a drug that you want to use? Well maybe if you have something that it resolves, it's worth the risk," he said.

But for Saburn and Assafi, the pros outweigh the cons in battling debilitating illnesses and side effects.