Body

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY ASH­LEY ROSS

If the word cannabis still brings to mind blunts and laced brown­ies, girl, catch up! In 2019, there’s far more to weed than get­ting stuck on your couch with the munchies. In fact, to­day’s hottest pot prod­ucts don’t even get you high. But they do claim to slay stress and anx­i­ety, re­lieve headaches, ease pe­riod cramps, soothe skin, im­prove sleep and tur­bocharge your or­gasms. And all with no smoke in­volved. In­stead, you can sim­ply rub on a body oil or mois­turiser, or sip a spiked tea.

So what’s the se­cret in­gre­di­ent? Cannabid­iol, or CBD, the sec­ond most abun­dant chem­i­cal found in mar­i­juana plants. Be­cause it lacks the psy­choac­tive prop­er­ties of tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol (aka THC), CBD isn’t in­tox­i­cat­ing. Re­search shows that it might, how­ever, boost your men­tal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing, says re­searcher Mar­cel Bonn-Miller, an ad­junct as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia. While THC ac­ti­vates cannabi­noid re­cep­tors that al­ter the re­lease of cer­tain neu­ro­trans­mit­ters in the brain, CBD seems to in­crease lev­els of your body’s nat­u­ral cannabi­noid-like com­pounds, which may help re­lieve anx­i­ety, reg­u­late chronic pain and re­duce in­flam­ma­tion.

As a re­sult CBD is now be­ing touted as a po­ten­tial treat­ment for ev­ery­thing from puffy skin to epilepsy. Maybe that’s why more and more peo­ple are ‘us­ing’. In March 2018, Googleshop­ping searches for CBD oil reached an all-time high, and ex­perts es­ti­mate that the new CBD in­dus­try could be worth a mas­sive R30-bil­lion by 2020.

Legally Le­git?

Be­fore you start slather­ing your­self with CBD-in­fused balms and toss­ing your salad with CBD dress­ing, re­mem­ber that this seem­ingly mag­i­cal stuff oc­cu­pies a le­gal grey area. That be­ing said, you can al­ready buy CBD goods from on­line stores and some brick-and-mor­tar shops.

Ralph Higgo, a South African med­i­cal-cannabis con­sul­tant, says that sell­ers are re­quired to have a li­cence to sell prod­ucts that con­tain this mag­i­cal com­pound. ‘CBD was gazetted to be a Sched­ule Four sub­stance by the South African Health Prod­ucts Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity – SAHPRA – which means that it should be avail­able only on pre­scrip­tion and dis­pensed at phar­macy level, and man­u­fac­tur­ers need to ap­ply for a li­cence in or­der to grow and dis­pense it,’ he ex­plains. ‘There are two li­cences that are pend­ing, but noth­ing has been granted the of­fi­cial go-ahead just yet. Other­wise it re­mains a le­gal mat­ter that needs clar­i­fi­ca­tion, but CBD oil is still avail­able on the shelves.’

This means you can rest easy (or ap­ply lib­er­ally), be­cause the like­li­hood of the law com­ing after you for that CBD lip balm is prac­ti­cally zilch.

Buyer Be­ware

The big­ger prob­lem is that reefer re­tail has no reg­u­la­tor to mon­i­tor what goes into CBD prod­ucts. ‘It’s the Wild West out there,’ says Bonn-Miller, who in

2017 tested 84 CBD prod­ucts and found that 26% con­tained less CBD than they claimed, while 42% had more. That fig­ure might sound scary, but Bonn-Miller says high lev­els aren’t known to be dan­ger­ous. Lev­els that are too low can, how­ever, make a prod­uct in­ef­fec­tive. (And 21% of the CBD prod­ucts also con­tained THC, which can make you high and show up on drug tests.)

Cur­rently there are no SAHPRA-ap­proved CBD or THC prod­ucts be­sides Mari­nol or Dron­abi­nol,a syn­thetic form of THC, which is also avail­able only via pre­scrip­tion and with an ap­proved ap­pli­ca­tion form, says Higgo. This means that buy­ers won’t know if their pur­chase is le­git.

An­other thing to con­sider is the le­gal sta­tus. ‘The re­cent Con­sti­tu­tional Court judg­ment did not strike down the por­tions of the Drugs Act and Medicines Act re­lated to deal­ing in cannabis,’ says Paul-Michael Ke­ichel of Schindlers At­tor­neys, the only law firm in South Africa with a de­part­ment ded­i­cated to the le­gal­i­ties sur­round­ing cannabis. ‘While it may be ar­guable that only the dealer (and not the buyer) com­mits a crime, cau­tion is ad­vised, so that you do not land in trou­ble with the po­lice and prose­cu­tors.’

And what about the health risks as­so­ci­ated with buy­ing un­reg­u­lated prod­ucts? ‘The dan­ger,’ says Ke­ichel, ‘is that it would not nec­es­sar­ily be of a stan­dard that would en­able the SA Phar­macy Coun­cil, along with SAHPRA, to regis­ter it as a medicine, with all the con­comi­tant qual­ity-con­trol mea­sures. The buyer does not know what they are get­ting – it re­ally is a roll of the dice.’ ■

This isn’t your granny’s ganja

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