By Mark Pew, Senior VP, Preferred Medical
This week I want to share two articles about CBD and marijuana. The first article is about new guidelines published about how and when to use CBD. The second article is about a new U.S. congressional bill that would help legal marijuana businesses. Below are these articles and my thoughts on their implications.
While CBD (a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana and hemp plants) has gained popularity over the last year, until now there have been no formal guidelines on how to use it. At the end of September, the Arthritis Foundation provided some advice for their members wanting to try CBD in managing joint pain. These guidelines are intended to provide direction and clarity around how to use CBD to treat pain despite there being limited scientific evidence whether/how it works.
Interesting insight on medical cannabis by The Arthritis Foundation (TAF). They surveyed “more than 2,600 patients, finding that nearly 80 percent are either currently using CBD, have used it, or are considering it for their joint pain.” Regardless of the participant selection criteria, 80% is a lot. Following are their thoughts (or what they call guidance):
- Patients should not abandon arthritis medications already prescribed by doctors
- Evidence showing CBD might be an effective pain reliever is anecdotal and (TAF) encourages more scientific research needed to prove safety and efficacy
- People who want to try CBD (should) start slowly with the lowest dose and track symptoms over time
- For both CBD and THC products, TAF urges patients to work with a physician to find products from reputable retailers who use independent, third-party testing
- TAF does not recommend CBD edibles or lotions because less is known about how the ingredient acts when it’s digested or absorbed through the skin
- CBD should not be vaped
- CBD may interact with some medications, such as naproxen (sold over the counter as Aleve), corticosteroids and some anti-depressants
While all of the points above are important to keep in mind, #3 and #4 are the ones that resonate most with me. With the “wild west” that CBD has become since hemp was federally legalized in December 2018 via the Farm Bill (which the FDA is now trying to manage retroactively), it’s important to know what you’re taking. Trust but Verify.
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act, giving legal marijuana businesses access to banking. Because there is still a federal prohibition of the drug, marijuana businesses have had trouble getting bank accounts, loans and other financial services, while also making the entire industry work on a cash basis with their customers. All of this is a huge hurdle for this multi-billion-dollar industry that this bill is trying to address.
The Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act passed the U.S. House Sep 25 by a vote of 321-103. It would “grant legal marijuana businesses access to banking” and transform the industry from a cash business into the 21st century. Passage in the Senate is not guaranteed although Sen. Mike Crapo (chairman of the Senate Banking Committee) is an advocate. I’ve mentioned this SAFE act before, as well as the Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM) Act that would give marijuana businesses greater access to insurance policies. Obviously neither of these bills legalize cannabis at the Federal level. But both would provide legitimacy—and staying power—to the industry. The implications to Work Comp are fairly obvious—reimbursement of medical cannabis could be fully embraced without fear of penalty. We shall see if either/both make it into law. While both have bipartisan support there are no guarantees in the other chamber.
To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of Mark Pew, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.
About Mark Pew
Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing for Preferred Medical, is a passionate educator and agitator. Known as the RxProfessor, Mark is focused on the intersection of chronic pain and appropriate treatment, particularly as it relates to the clinical and financial implications of prescription painkillers, non-pharma treatment modalities and the evolution of medical marijuana. He is a strong champion for the workers’ compensation industry to #PreventTheMess and #CleanUpTheMess, movements he created to drive attention to the importance of individualized appropriate treatment for injured workers. Mark is a vocal advocate of the BioPsychoSocialSpiritual treatment model.
Mark serves on the IAIABC’s Medical Issues Committee and SIIA’s Workers’ Compensation Committee. In addition, he serves as technical advisor to regulators and legislators in 20+ jurisdictions on subjects such as drug formularies, treatment guidelines, Opioid Task Force initiatives, encouraging support of non-pharma treatment options and the medicinal use of cannabis. Mark received the WorkCompCentral Magna Comp Laude award in 2016 and the IAIABC’s Samuel Gompers Award in 2017.