Pharmacy and convenience store giant CVS announced this past week that it will start selling CBD products at over 800 stores in eight U.S. states, including Maryland.
On Wednesday, March 20, pharmacy chain CVS announced in a statement to NBC News that it will begin offering CBD products as "an alternative source of relief" in eight states, including Maryland, Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
“We are carrying hemp-derived CBD products in select states to help meet consumer demand for alternative care options,” Mike DeAngelis, CVS Health Spokesperson, said on Thursday.
CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound extracted from cannabis plants. The chemical compound has gained widespread acceptance and legality in recent years for its efficacy in treating physical ailments and disorders from ADHD to nausea to anxiety to chemotherapy pain. As CBD gains widespread acceptance and cannabis products begin to lose their stigma, retailers are posturing to jump on board to monetize the trend and take advantage of its medical benefits.
“Societies have jumped far, far ahead of science,” Dr. Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University Medical Center, told NBC last week. “So it’s showing up in lotions and pretty much any form of product one can use. There’s a lot of different ways one could use CBD, but the ways we have studied CBD is much more limited.”
Currently, the only FDA-approved CBD drug is Epidiolex, a treatment for epilepsy.
In 2019, the legality of CBD itself is an amorphous topic defined by conflicting federal and state laws with varying levels of enforcement. Due to the contentious nature of the product, CVS says it will be cautious of which products it sells, and will not be marketing any products with CBD as a "cure-all."
CVS also says it will not be selling any CBD-based supplements or food additives. Under the FDA's 2018 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal to introduce additives like CBD into the food supply or to market them as supplements. The FDA says it hopes to protect consumers from companies that would put consumers at risk with misrepresentative marketing.
“Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law, but also can put patients at risk, as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.
Nonetheless, CVS says it plans to both comply with the law and aim to satisfy the growing public interest in CBD-infused products.
“We’re going to walk slowly, but this is something we think our customers will be looking for,” Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS, said.
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