With marijuana on the ballot in four states, UW researchers take a closer look at CBD

SEATTLE -- With marijuana on the ballot in four states, researchers at the University of Washington are taking a closer look at CBD, a component of the marijuana plant that's gaining popularity as a treatment for pain, inflammation and seizures.

"It has been out there for a long time," explained Beatriz Carlini, a research scientist at the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Institute. "We know that it is a potent analgesic and also works as anti-seizure medication, anti-inflammatory."

It doesn't give you a high, but it's sold at pot shops around Washington, next to other marijuana products that do give you a high. It can be found in coffee, topical creams and even dog treats.

Although CBD has been on the market for a while, researchers say more studies are needed to better understand its effects on the body.

It's hard for researchers to study, because the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration still considers cannabis -- including CBD, unless sourced from industrial hemp -- an illegal drug.

"The reality is you can go to a shop and pick it up. It's legally OK to do that. But you are missing the opportunity to talk to your doctor about better ways to use this medication and also come up with other options that you might consider instead of (CBD)," Carlini said.

Carlini also warned that CBD can have varying effects, depending on the person taking it.

“It’s not a magic solution for everything. Some people adjust well. Some people won’t adjust as well. So it’s a case by case basis and it’s very important that people are educated and health care providers are educated. It is a very novel approach," Carlini said.