Ask Dr. David

Ask Dr. David: CBD Quality Variances in Florida and How it Can Impact You

November 10, 2017

What are some differences between doses of CBD from medical marijuana compared to the CBD found in hemp products, which can be purchased without being certified by a doctor?

To understand the difference between CBD used in medical marijuana compared to that which can be purchased in stores and through the internet, it is essential to understand a few commonly used terms:

  • Cannabis is a subset of flowering plants in the biological family Cannabaceae.
  • Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on endocannabinoid receptors on cells that alter nerve function.
  • Psychotropic is a chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness or behavior.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the two main cannabinoids found in cannabis. It does not have euphoric properties.
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the other primary cannabinoid. It has psychoactive properties that are dose-dependent and can be blocked at least partially, if not completely, by pairing it with adequate doses of CBD.
  • Hemp is a form of cannabis that is high in CBD and low in THC. It is similar to “low-THC” medical marijuana.

Different cannabis strains contain various cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemicals that can affect the taste, smell, and effects of cannabis plants, including how sedating a product might be. Though some differences exist between different types of products, as a general rule, a milligram of CBD is a milligram of CBD regardless of the source. However, some products or delivery systems may allow for more of the chemical to enter the bloodstream.

The legality of hemp-based CBD in Florida is questionable, at best. According to Florida’s medical marijuana laws, cannabis is only legal when: (1) grown by a state-approved organization, and (2) possessed by a patient or legal guardian who has a state-approved ID card.  So, to the best of my understanding all hemp-based CBD products sold online and in health food stores are illegal under Florida law.

Additionally, hemp-based CBD products sold outside of Florida-approved Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (i.e., MMTCs or dispensaries) do not have to go through the same level of testing for purity and accuracy that is required of Florida’s state-approved products. As a result, there can be significant variations between batches of the product. In other words, if a label says it contains 1 mg per drop (or whatever) there is no guarantee it indeed does unless each batch is tested according to specific guidelines. Additionally, when purchased through a source not regulated by the State, there is no guarantee that what is stated on the bottle is what is actually inside the container regarding fillers and “other” ingredients.

I also want to point out be that in Florida, medical cannabis is not “prescribed” by doctors. Rather, doctors who are qualified under state law “certify” that a patient may purchase and possess medical cannabis products. Although I choose to provide dosing guidelines for my patients when needed, under Florida law doctors are only required to authorize the maximum amount of CBD and THC a patient may purchase over 70 days. Additionally, the doctor can authorize two refills for each certification, amounting to 210 days total per certification.

In conclusion, I firmly believe patients are better served by getting certified to receive medical cannabis by a qualified and experienced physician and only using products that are legally sold at a licensed MMTC. As we continue to make progress in this fields of medicine and law, I am grateful to be able to help improve the lives of so many people with this amazing medicinal herb.

Family Medical Cannabis Clinic and Wholistic Pediatric and Family Care have been treating patients with medical cannabis since 2016. As the Tampa Bay area’s leading authority on medical cannabis treatment and one of the nation’s most experienced pediatricians treating with medical cannabis, Dr. David Berger is committed to first understanding his patients’ needs. He then customizes a medical cannabis treatment plan that will produce the most effective results. For more information about medical cannabis treatment in Florida, please visit our website by clicking here. Existing patients may also contact the clinic directly through their patient portal.

In private practice since 1997, Dr. David is an advanced practitioner of biomedical therapies, advocating for the Autism Research Institute philosophy since 1999. In 2005, Dr. David opened Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care (formerly Wholistic Pediatrics), his medical practice in Tampa, Florida. In 2010, Dr. David was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida College of Nursing. In 2012, he helped develop and lead the Preconception to Infancy Portland Think Tank, from which the national P2i initiative was developed. In 2016, he launched the Family Medical Cannabis Clinic to help qualified patients use medical cannabis as a treatment option.