QCOSTARICA – CBD is cannabidiol, a chemical from the cannabis sativa plant. This substance is called a cannabinoid. More than 100 different cannabinoids have already been found from the cannabis plant, but the two best known and most predominant are CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
But a great detail differentiates them: THC is the main psychotropic ingredient in cannabis – responsible for creating sensations that are directly related to the marijuana drug – but CBD does not contain THC.
Both CBD and THC act on the cannabinoid receptors in our body, which are mainly found in the brain and in our nervous and immune systems.
In the United States, for example, CBD is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only for the treatment of seizures.
But in the rest of the world, there are thousands of CBD products that we can find legally in Costa Rica – and that are also sold in the US, in fact.
In these products, CBD is used for anxiety, pain, muscle disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and other conditions.
Mind you: according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), “there is no good scientific evidence to support all uses.”
In Costa Rica, approved products that have permits are totally free of THC.
The most common formulation of CBD is in oil, although it is also found in extract, vaporized liquid, or capsules with oily-based liquid.
In this range of presentations, CBD is distributed in food products, beverages, beauty products, raw materials, and many more examples.
Currently, there are at least 66 CBD products that have a valid permit from the Costa Rican Ministry of Health.
What is its legal situation in Costa Rica?
Starting this month (October 2021), in Costa Rica products with CBD can be registered with the Ministry of Health, as long as they are 100% free of THC.
According to a search we did in Registrelo CR, the public database of the Ministry of Health to see if a drug, food or chemical product is approved by the authorities, in the country there are 66 products in force whose names contain the words “CBD” or “cannabidiol”.
They are distributed like this:
- Total Products With CBD: 66
- Food: 35
- Raw materials: 18
- Cosmetics: 12
- Chemicals: 1
According to official health information, in the country, there are no authorized products with the words “CBD” or “cannabidiol” in the EM biomedical categories, medicines, natural products, hygiene products, biological medicines, pesticides.
The first law firm to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Health for a CBD product was BLP Legal. Giancarlo Andreoli, a lawyer for the firm and specialist in the area of cannabis, told La Nacion that obtaining these permits was a long process at the beginning, in 2019, but now it is more expeditious.
“The first permit that BLP Legal obtained was a long process, approximately one year, given that it was a completely new process and they did not have the necessary knowledge of the product. It can be said that it was a learning process for both parties. Now it is much more expeditious. We can say that on average, having all the requirements, it can take two months to obtain the permit,” says Andreoli.
The Ministry of Health has warned many times that, when looking for a product with CBD, it is necessary for the person interested in acquiring it to check on registrelo that the article has a valid permit from the ethical authorities.
If the product has a valid permit, it means that experts from the ministry evaluated its quality, safety and efficacy prior to its commercialization.
“This to guarantee that the product will not bring adverse consequences to patients,” says a health alert that was released in 2019.
By having a permit, as is the case for at least 66 products today, “CBD products can be legally imported, marketed and consumed in the country,” explains lawyer Andreoli.
In the US, although only one CBD product is FDA-cleared, CBD foods, cosmetics, or pseudo-drugs are swarming in online sales.
The Mayo Clinic, for medical services and research, has published that in the U.S. up to 84 products with cannabidiol bought online have been studied, and it was shown that more than a quarter of the products contained less CBD than that advertised on the label. In addition, 18 of the 84 products contained THC, the psychotropic substance of the cannabis sativa plant, despite the fact that their labels did not mention it.
For these types of experiences, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health recommends:
- Verify that the product has a valid permit.
- Buy products only in establishments authorized by Health and avoid buying from individuals who offer them outside of these types of establishments.
- Report to the ministry those places or people and companies that are suspected of selling products without a sanitary registration.
Among the 66 products in force in Costa Rica, free of THC, we find:
- “Fermented kombucha drink with cold pressed turmeric, ginger, lemon, black pepper and hemp oil (CBD)”.
- “Oil based on hemp (CBD), turmeric, ginger with mint flavor”.
- “Capsules with CBD extract and TMC oil (bottle with 30 capsules)”.
- “Water with 10 mg of CBD”.
- “Flavored cannabidiol drink (cherry, watermelon, green apple, mango, orange, grape, lime, peach, strawberry, passion fruit, pineapple, dragon fruit)”.
- “THC-free cannabidiol distilled oil”.
- “Pure CBD to use as raw material for food supplements to the customer: drinks, snacks, cookies, breads”.
How does CBD work in our body?
The way in which CBD exerts its therapeutic impact at the molecular level in our body continues to be a subject of extensive research for science.
As with other chemicals, CBD affects our bodies by binding to receptors on the surface of cells. In this case, with our human endocannabinoid system, which is related to the regulation of a variety of functions, including sleep, appetite, pain and the immune system, according to nutritionist Jillian Kubala in Healthline.
CBD activates the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), which resides in the central nervous system, and type 2 (CB2), which is concentrated in the peripheral nervous system, and also activates numerous non-cannabonioid receptors.
Science has linked the use of CBD, in different measures, formulations and with different quality of evidence, to treat pain, reduce anxiety and depression, alleviate symptoms related to cancer, reduce acne, benefits for heart health, among others. But not a few studies are still in process to find more solid evidence.
Independent legislator, Zoila Rosa Volio, the main promoter of the bill to develop an industry of hemp and cannabis for medicinal purposes in the country, says that what CBD needs is “more information” so that it does not continue to be confused with THC or with some psychotropic drug.
“Regarding the issue of CBD, which does not have a high psychoactive component, which is more of a superfood and that today we can get raw material from it for textiles, plastics, shoes, in short … What is needed is information,” Volio emphasizes.
“And to explain to people what it is about because when you talk about hemp or cannabis, you normally think nothing more about recreational (drug use), but in this case, being hemp and having a low THC content, less than 1%, does not have these effects and is really beneficial for health, anxiety, and some chronic diseases”.
Regarding the legislative bill, the legislator comments that it has already left the Environment Commission of the Legislative Assembly with a positive opinion after hearing 88 motions that had been presented to her.
Now, the text is in the drafting phase and then it would go to plenary for the first debate.