Should Cannabadiol products be sold in Running retail?

I read with interest the front page of industry magazine Running Insight below. And as I read on I became increasingly concerned at the concept that Cannabadiol, more commonly termed CBD is for all runners and that it SHOULD be sold in running retail.




Bluntly put, it should not!

Let's take a look at the facts to get a handle on where this is going.

Currently this is a phenomenon limited to North America (Canada and the USA), And if you live in these countries, by now, you've probably run into a product containing cannabidiol, also known as CBD. It's in everything from drinks and pet products to lotions and chewable gummies.

Even major drugstore chains have announced they will start carrying CBD products in certain states.

Cannabis oil is legal in Australia, but under special access. Anything with CBD in it is considered a 'scheduled product'. You need to go to your doctor, and they have to have special approval from the department of health to prescribe this particular type of prescription.

But many people still don't really know what CBD is. Is it marijuana? Is it legal? Does it actually work? Is it safe?

Now the answers to these questions are far from straight forward..

The only thing that is clear at this point:

The marketing has gone way ahead of the science and the law when it comes to CBD products

and this is supported by the banner headline in the latest issue of Running Insight.


Cannabidiol is one of the two best-known active compounds derived from the marijuana plant. The other is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the substance that that produces the "high" from marijuana.

CBD does not get you high, but Donald Levy, medical director at the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and assistant clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says the idea that it's not psychoactive is something of a misconception in his opinion.

 "It does change your consciousness. You feel mellow, experience less pain, and are more comfortable," he says. In addition, some CBD products do contain small amounts of THC.

Woh.. sick dude.. where do I get it?

Not so fast Harvey.. there may be some issues..

First thing to know is that there are 2 potential sources for CBD:

  1. CBD can come from marijuana
  2. It can also be derived from hemp.

Hemp is a related plant with 0.3% or less of THC. This plant is often used to make fabrics and ropes. As of 2018, Congress made hemp legal in all 50 states, and consequently CBD derived from hemp is also legal.

The rules around marijuana-derived CBD, however, are far less clear.

Does it work?

There is evidence that CBD works for some conditions, but certainly not all the conditions it is being promoted for these days.

However, there is significant scientific conflict and doubt over many CBD products on the market today, in particular those that are rubbed on the skin.

The clinical benefit of these remains completely unknown because rigorous and scientifically valid research on these products has not be published.

This research appears to have been trampled undefoot by the rush to get the product to the consumer.

never a wise move

In addition, what tests we do have access to  show that many products don't contain what's claimed on the label. For example, they may have less CBD than advertised. 

All filla.. no killa!

Is CBD safe?

For adults, CBD appears to be a very safe product.

However, CBD does produce side effects for some people, including nausea, fatigue, and irritability.

It may also interact with certain medications, and this more than any other reason is why it should NOT be sold in running retail!

For children under age 21 it's a different story. "I don't suggest that anyone under age 21 use marijuana regularly," says Dr. Levy.

"It's also not clear what the appropriate CBD dose is for children, and more research is needed in this area."

Evidence regarding CBD is still building. Now that some states have legalized recreational and medical use of marijuana products, including CBD, scientists are finding it easier to conduct research. More will be known in the next 10 years, including whether there are yet undiscovered problems associated with long-term use.

The bottom line.

Suggesting that these products should be marketed and sold in runnig retail stores puts up all sorts of red flags for me, and until we have the research that allows us to properly understand the risk:benefit analysis, I do not think this is a great idea.

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical