Middle ground found with local alternative health care providers
Alternative health care providers are finding they’re one of the main sources for CBD, also called cannabidiol, since physicians cannot prescribe the substance for medical use.
Chiropractor Greg Haitz said he’s noticing that health care professionals without licenses to prescribe medication are filling the niche in the relatively new world of CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. CBD can be extracted from all cannabis leaves and flowers, though there are varieties of hemp being grown for this oil which have .3 percent or less amounts of THC, tetrahydrocannabidiol, the psychoactive element in cannabis that causes a high.
However, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved hemp extract for the treatment or prevention of any disease, and the Drug Enforcement Agency considers it a controlled substance. Those in the industry refer to this legal limbo as a “gray area” that doesn’t seem to be slowing demand.
Haitz, who is on the opioid task force for the Colorado Chiropractic Association, said he and his colleagues are trying to offer reliable alternatives for patients who cannot get advice from medical doctors who are prohibited from giving advice on using what the federal government still considers a schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin and LSD.
“Physicians don’t want to continue prescribing opioids for pain, but they can’t recommend CBD because they have DEA licenses — you can’t prescribe something that’s illegal,” he said. “They’re just hands off, it’s not legal but if you want to try it, go ahead.”
Haitz decided to stock CBD products at his office about one and a half years ago after attending a seminar on using it for brain health, including migraine headaches.
Since then, he’s seen an increase in demand for CBD products from patients and non-patients who just want to buy the product from his clinic.
Today, Rimrock Wellness Center is one of a handful of places where locals can purchase CBD products, including salves, supplements and lotions for pain relief and other ailments. It’s also one of two locations in town carrying Charlotte’s Web, a THC-free product. Contrary to what some believe, CBD is not the same as medical marijuana and it does not get anyone high.
The clients who purchase CBD products from Rimrock Wellness fall into two categories. “Either they know all about it, they’ve done their research, or they think we’ve got ground-up marijuana in little jars,” Haitz said. “We’ve got to explain it to those people.”
He said most of the questions he and his staff fields are along the lines of whether users will pass a drug screening if they use a salve or take the supplements, if it will get them high, or how they can use the product. The most tentative customers will usually try a salve before ingesting CBD orally through a tincture, he said.
Overall, Haitz said he’s seen a wide variety of customers who are happy with the products.
“I have pastors and pastors’ wives coming to get it,” he said. “We have truck drivers who have to pass drug tests and physicals using it.”
He said many have tried other methods of pain relief without satisfaction, or they fear the addictive qualities of opioids and want to avoid taking them.
“It gives them pain relief without making them feel loopy,” he said.
Deciding which products to offer patients required some digging, as Haitz said there are lots of offerings out there but few that have research to back up their products.
“I’m pretty conservative when it comes to getting into the medical marijuana stuff,” he said, but CBD is different. He decided to offer products that weren’t necessarily the cheapest but seemed to have better quality and some research to back them up.
“I felt comfortable because they really treated it more as a pharmaceutical,” he said, including third-party testing for quality and professional packaging and labeling.
Haitz said he is still not a proponent of marijuana use, though he’s not going to tell someone with a terminal illness who obtains relief from medical marijuana not to use it. Many of his concerns stem from the affects of marijuana on brain development and lung health, but as a health care practitioner he doesn’t have the same concerns about CBD.
His office saw a slow increase in sales of CBD products from October 2016 to January 2017, then experienced a sharp increase in demand. In the last three or four months, sales have doubled and demand has grown to the point where the office had a waiting list for products.
Haitz said prices seem to be fluctuating as demand increases for CBD products, and they’ve seen some costs decrease for certain items they offer.
Haitz predicts the demand for CBD will increase as the stigma of it being associated with marijuana decreases, and personal experiences with the products lead to word-of-mouth testimonials to friends and family.
“Grand Junction’s pretty conservative, it’s just not getting out there yet,” he said. “But I think we’re going to see more naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists handling it. If medical doctors can’t prescribe it, then people will find it somewhere else.”