Pain is simply a part of life for Duane Franks. He's living with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in his bone marrow.
"I was six foot, four and now I’m five foot, seven," Franks said. "I’ve lost, with the curvature of the spine and the collapse of the sternum, I’ve lost that many inches in height."
The bones in his chest collapsed and fractured because of the cancer.
"That’s my biggest issue now is the fracture," he said. "The cancer part, for most people, you don’t notice it but mine is the fracture. That’s what is the painful aspect of what I deal with daily."
Franks, a worship pastor, takes prescription pain killers but says they don't help with the discomfort. That's why he turned to CBD.
CBD or cannabidiol comes from the hemp plant. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis but have their differences. The biggest one: Marijuana has more THC in it - that's what gets you high. Hemp, on the other hand, has more CBD. THC and CBD are cannabinoids but CBD does not have the psychoactive properties that THC does.
"You could eat every single bottle of this [CBD oil] and you’re not getting high," Bob Crumley, who owns the Everything Hemp Store, said.
Crumley is also the CEO of Founder's Hemp and a chairman of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Growers Association. He says CBD is not something to be afraid of.
"If you’ve eaten chocolate, if you’ve eaten broccoli, if you’ve eaten black pepper – they have cannabinoids in them," Crumley said. "But nothing has as many cannabinoids or the quality of cannabinoids as cannabis does."
Crumley sells oils, balms, gummies, drinks, protein bars and capsules with CBD in them at his store. He also sells products that use other parts of the hemp plant like clothing, dog toys, and hemp seeds.
"Whether it’s a topical or an ingestible – we’ve got it all."
While consumers claim CBD can cure a myriad of issues like anxiety, sleep deprivation and pain, no retailer can make claims about the product.
So who is regulating those products? WFMY News 2's Maddie Gardner asked Crumley.
"That’s an interesting question," he said. "I’m not real sure who’s regulating the products right now because up until this time, the Department of Agriculture and the FDA have really taken a back seat and let the industry develop out there."
So is CBD safe? Crumley says, "absolutely."
"When I say safe, I’m not saying the FDA says it’s safe, I’m saying our products are produced in a food-grade, nutritional-supplement-safe facility."
CBD and hemp are both legal but it's taking time for regulation to catch up to the popular products. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture just released a statement about CBD products that reads in part, "We also urge consumers to be smart shoppers and ask questions before choosing to purchase any tincture that contains CBD or hemp extract. Find out how the product is manufactured, if the company has purity standards and what the potency may be."
Dr. Remy Coeytaux practices integrative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He hasn't prescribed CBD to his patients yet.
"It seems to be largely safe," he said. "One of the problems is that the manufacturing is not standardized and we don’t have a definitive dosing method."
The FDA approved CBD in a prescription drug, Epidiolex, to treat epilepsy. That's the only approved medicinal use at this time. Dr. Coeytaux says more patients are asking about using CBD for other ailments.
"I think it’s promising but it depends," he said. "It depends on the people, it depends on the conditions, it depends on a lot of things."
The Franks call CBD a godsend that works when prescription pills don't.
"You know you hear a lot about, ‘Oh you shouldn’t take CBD oil because of this and the warning labels,’ but, like he said, we are willing to try something if it’s natural," Caroline Franks, Duane's wife, said.
Franks applies a cream with CBD in it three to four times a day. He says the relief is real.
"It’s just worked," he said. "It’s helped. I mean, how do I describe it?"