There's at least 50 shades of green in the emerging world of medical cannabis. With hundreds of different products calling themselves CBD oil, Hemp oil, Cannabis oil, Marijuana oil, no wonder the average consumer is totally confused. Not to mention that laws vary from state to state, county to county, and even city to city. In 2016 CBD was classified as a Schedule 1 drug,(more about that later, thanks Obama). It can be like learning a new language, except that the language is constantly changing due to legal issues and FDA regulations.
Hemp vs. Cannabis.
"Hemp” is technically cannabis sativa, but bred to contain less than .3% THC (the psychoactive compound). The exciting thing about hemp is that it can be cultivated to contain up to 40% Cannabidiol (CBD, the non-psychoactive compound). Cannabidiol has been shown to have a powerful regulatory effect on the endocannabinoid system, which helps support nervous system and immune function, to name just a few benefits.
Legally speaking, the United States Department of Health has a patent on cannabinoids (including CBD) found in the plant cannabis sativa. U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507 covers the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids — chemical compounds found within the plant species cannabis sativa. This patent was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2003. And since this department technically owns the term “CBD” they can tell companies using those letters basically to cease and desist at any time. Of course, there are hundreds of CBD oil companies out there, so for now, it’s power in numbers. But that doesn’t mean they are not under attack.
What is CBD oil?
This depends on a few factors, and you need to do a little research on each product to know for certain what you’re getting. Are you buying the CBD oil from a dispensary in a state where cannabis is legal for medical or recreational? If so, know that these oils most likely contain THC, unless they specify they are derived from hemp, so you will definitely get high! You want to be aware of these things before you consume, obviously. Rick Simpson Oil (aka Phoenix Tears), a strong cannabis concentrate, can be made with any strain of cannabis, so know beforehand of the percentages of THC, so you can prepare for the effects. There are “CBD oils” that are derived from industrial hemp. These legal oils vary drastically in quality and efficacy. Hemp is a remediation plant, meaning it uptakes toxins from the soil. You want to make sure that the hemp is grown organically, otherwise you could be ingesting pesticides. Yuck. Beware of cheap CBD oils that source their hemp in China.
What is Hemp Oil?
You can buy Hemp Oil at the supermarket, and it’s a fantastic source of omega 3 fatty acids, much like flax oil. These oils are pressed from hemp seeds, which are very nutritious. Hemp oil can also be used topically as a moisturizer and hair conditioner.
Now here’s where it gets confusing…
Remember the part about the US Department of Health owning a patent on “CBD?” Companies who have been putting those letters on their labels have been having major issues with domestic banks, paypal, etc. Check out this story as an example. To avoid this situation, some companies producing CBD oil derived from hemp have been advised by lawyers to label their oil as “hemp oil.” If it is a known source of cannabidiol, you will find the milligrams of phytocannabinoids listed in the ingredients on the bottle. That is the only way to know how much CBD you are actually consuming. Actually, to add another twist to the plot, different delivery systems such as nano enhancement can vastly effect the bioavailability of the CBD. But that’s another blog post.
The farm bill of 2014 protects our right to consume hemp products that contain less than .3% THC. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug. Section 7606 of the Farm Bill defines industrial hemp as "the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” CBD oils derived from hemp are legal in all 50 states. Just be aware of the massive variation in quality of these oils. It’s good to do a lot of research. I hope this aided your understanding of the murky business of legal cannabis.
By Brenna Moore