PHOENIX, AZ — Miracle drug or snake oil? There's a lot of talk about cannabidiol oil (CBD) and its reported health benefits.
CBD is derived from the cannabis plant. CBD products that are legal contain very trace amounts of THC - no more than 0.3% - and will not give you the so-called "high" associated with marijuana.
With the legalization of hemp, which also falls under the cannabis family, CBD stores are popping up all over the Valley. Many people are even selling the product from their homes.
From topical balms, to shampoo, pain patches, pills, sprays, lollipops, and coffee infused with CBD, there's something out there for everyone.
The question is, does it really work?
CBD sellers say many of their customers have tried the Food and Drug Administration-approved products available at local pharmacies but say nothing has worked as well as CBD.
Advocates are also sold on the fact that the chemical comes from a plant. But despite what customers say, FDA officials say there is just no scientific evidence to back up any of these claims.
Lilach Mazor owns the Giving Tree Wellness Center. She says she is encouraged by the fact some universities are starting to research the effects of CBD.
"For a while, nobody wanted to do these studies, because it was illegal," said Mazor.
Chris Martin, co-owner of Hempful Farms, says his customers do not seem to be concerned about the lack of research. Word of mouth is what's driving sales at his Phoenix store.
"We have everything from soap, to sunscreen, pain patches, bath bombs, lip balms, even pet treats with CBD," said Martin.
Shaylene Weaver started taking CBD for her anxiety. She says it makes her feel calm and ready to tackle the day.
"Once it was in my system for a couple weeks, I realized when I started waking up and I didn't have that knot in my stomach; that fear of what the day was going to bring," said Weaver.
Others say CBD helps relieve their chronic pain and inflammation. Some are even using Hemp and CBD-infused serums as a beauty regimen, saying it's a great moisturizer, especially to sensitive skin prone to acne.
"I just love the way it makes me feel. I always feel like I am glowing when I use it," said Andi Martin, co-owner of Hempful Farms.
Business owners have been very careful about how they market CBD products. FDA officials have warned businesses it's illegal to make any health or medical claims about CBD because the product has not been tested or approved by the FDA for consumption.
"What my wife and I have done since the beginning of the business, is we keep a book full of testimonies," said Martin. Anyone with questions about CBD could look through the book at Hempful Farms and see what other customers had experienced with the product.
Documents on the FDA's website show warning letters officials have sent to businesses who are making untested health claims about CBD products. The letters warn business owners to show proof of how they are changing their marketing standards, and to remove any type of claim that said CBD could "cure" an ailment or disease.
Documents show a Scottsdale business that received a warning letter from the FDA demanding that they remove all language claiming that CBD oil would "inhibit lung cancer cell invasion," "treat rheumatoid arthritis," and "inhibit cancer cell growth," from their website.
Martin said he and most legitimate CBD business owners are fine following FDA rules, but they are glad to hear research on these products is now starting to take place.
"We are not doctors. We don't have the right to play doctor, or even offer suggestions of medical benefits with this product because of the FDA," said Martin.
He added the fact that so many of their customers keep coming back for more, show the product must be helping.
"This is something that has never hurt anyone on this planet. Yet we approve alcohol, that half a million people die from every year," said Martin.