Just a few years ago, cannabis was better known as marijuana, hemp was considered a fiber, and only a small fraction of people in the United States had ever heard of CBD. Over the last few years, it seems CBD has launched to stardom in the world of health and wellness. From professional athletes and celebrities to busy moms and retired grandparents, thousands of people are jumping on the CBD bandwagon and touting its benefits. rising trend of hemp derived products
Although CVS and Walgreens just recently announced plans to stock their shelves with CBD products soon, indicating a more mainstream shift, many consumers have lingering questions and concerns about the illustrious compound.
“To answer some of those questions and demystify the proliferation of CBD, let’s review some of the basics regarding the increasingly popular products.”
Hemp vs. Cannabis – Semantics Matter
Before we dive into the specific details about CBD, we must first define the differences between these two plants. By scientific definition cannabis, marijuana, and hemp are all the same species of plant, known as cannabis sativa l.
However, by legal definition, there are a few differences in the terminology:
Hemp: By definition, hemp is a version of cannabis sativa l. which produces less than
.3% THC. As of December, with the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp can be legally cultivated in all 50 states. Traditionally, we tend to think of industrial hemp as a tall, lanky crop grown in vast fields; however, many quality CBD producers grow hemp similarly to legal cannabis for maximum cannabinoid yield.
Cannabis: Formerly known as marijuana, the legal definition of cannabis includes any cannabis sativa l plants which produce more than .3% THC. While still considered illegal at the Federal level, by exercising their 10th Amendment rights, 33 states legalized medical cannabis, and ten states allow recreational consumption.
Ironically, cannabis can produce low levels of THC with extremely high levels of CBD and still be considered cannabis, but by law, hemp crops producing more than .3% THC must be destroyed. Additionally, it takes much more plant material to produce hemp-derived CBD products than cannabis-derived CBD products. On average, most hemp crops only produce about 10 per cent CBD by volume, while some varieties of cannabis produce as much as 20-25% CBD.
Speaking of Ambiguity
Although hemp can be legally planted and grown all across the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to create a full set of regulations regarding how the product can be marketed and sold. In fact, in a recent statement, Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA announced it could take years for the agency to come up to speed and issue rules and standards for the cultivation, extraction, and sale of hemp-derived CBD products.
In the meantime, consumers need to be educated and diligent. From the FDA’s perspective, lack of regulation means products may be mislabeled, contain more THC than intended, or worse, contain toxins or contaminants which could contribute to worsening health problems. All of which are valid concerns.