Separate the college’s policies on CBD and THC

On Saturday, The Beacon reported that a group of college administrators are “discussing and finalizing policies” regarding the on-campus usage of CBD, a natural compound in cannabis.

A group of college officials, including the deans of campus life and interim community standards director, will determine which CBD products will be barred from campus. Their decision has the potential to forbid a generally unharmful substance many students use for medical and recreational purposes. 

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis behind tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Unlike THC, it does not have psychoactive effects and does not cause the user to get a “high.” There is also no evidence that pure CBD causes any health-related problems. And according to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.” 

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Right now, the college’s cannabis policies do not distinguish between CBD and THC. The policies simply prohibit the “possession or use of marijuana” and “any drug paraphernalia.” Students are expected to abide by these policies regarding the possession, distribution, use, and manufacturing of all illegal drugs, including cannabis.

We encourage the college to account for the differences between CBD and THC when drafting these policies in the coming weeks. The guidelines that oversee students’ use of CBD should not be grouped with those that define the restrictions around other substances and paraphernalia. 

Massachusetts law allows people 21 and older to legally consume cannabis with a few limitations. But in July, the Boston Globe reported that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently banned certain types of CBD. The policies, enacted on June 12, prohibit the sale and use of two popular categories of CBD-based products: any food product that contains the cannabinoid and any product derived from CBD that makes medicinal claims.

Yet today, CBD is used for medicinal and recreational purposes more than ever before. And the cannabinoid does not elicit any of the effects that other drugs like alcohol, opioids, and other cannabis strains can cause. 

The ruling follows the growing use of CBD as a form of treatment for neurological and mental illnesses. According to Harvard Health Publishing, CBD-based products are commonly used to treat anxiety, chronic pain, and a handful of seizure disorders. Studies also suggest that CBD helps insomnia patients fall and stay asleep.

There is also proven growth in the market for CBD-infused food like ice cream, coffee, and candies that claim to help people relax and manage pain. CBD teas and oils that allege to help people sleep are gaining steam. A handful of companies even make CBD pet products like cat food and daily dog vitamins. 

In The Beacon’s reporting, we found two students who confirmed they use CBD to manage their psychological problems and social anxiety. It’s inevitable they aren’t the only ones, so it’s clear this decision will impact students and their well-being going forward.  

Emerson prides itself on being a progressive and forward-thinking institution, and it’s essential that our college’s policies reflect this vision. A wide array of scientific and legislative studies have proven the positive effects of CBD. And some students benefit from CBD products, including for medical use. So it simply doesn’t make sense for these products to be grouped with other substances the college deems inappropriate.  

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