The arrival of Epidiolex is unlikely to erase the unregulated CBD market, however. For one, Epidiolex has been studied only in connection with a small number of epileptic conditions. If and when Epidiolex makes its way to drug stores, it will be approved only for the treatment of Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, two rare forms of catastrophic epilepsy. People like me, with comparatively mild Janz Syndrome, and people like Harper, with extremely rare conditions like CDKL5, may still be out of luck.
As marijuana is legalized in more and more states, the wellness world has whipped itself into a frenzy over a non-intoxicating cannabis derivative called cannabidiol. CBD products can be found on the internet and in health-food stores, wellness catalogs and even bookstores. (A bookstore in downtown Boulder, Colorado, displays a case of CBD products between the cash register and the stacks of new releases.) Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, disgraced cyclist1 Floyd Landis and former Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer are all touting CBD products, and according to Bon Appétit, CBD-infused lattes have become “the wellness world’s new favorite drink.”
It is clear that there is a culture of idealistic believers in hemp in North America, and that there is great determination to establish the industry. As history has demonstrated, unbridled enthusiasm for largely untested new crops touted as gold mines sometimes leads to disaster. The attempt to raise silk in the US is probably the most egregious example. In 1826 a Congressional report that recommended the preparation of a practical manual on the industry resulted in a contagious desire to plant mulberries for silk production, with the eventual collapse of the industry, the loss of fortunes, and a legacy of “Mulberry Streets” in the US (Chapter 2, Bailey 1898). In the early 1980s in Minnesota, Jerusalem artichoke was touted as a fuel, a feed, a food, and a sugar crop. Unfortunately there was no market for the new “wonder crop” and hundreds of farmers lost about $20 million (Paarlberg 1990). The level of “hype” associated with industrial hemp is far more than has been observed before for other new crops (Pinfold Consulting 1998). Probably more so than any plant in living memory, hemp attracts people to attempt its cultivation without first acquiring a realistic appreciation of the possible pitfalls. American presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson encouraged the cultivation of hemp, but both lost money trying to grow it. Sadly in Canada in 1999 numerous farmers contracted to grow half of Canada’s crop area for hemp for the American-based Consolidated Growers and Processors, and with the collapse of the firm were left holding very large amounts of unmarketable grain and baled hemp straw. This has represented a most untimely setback for a fledgling industry, but at least has had a sobering effect on investing in hemp. In this section we emphasize why producers should exercise caution before getting into hemp.
As the demand for CBD products has increased, some states have started to take action. Over the past two years, 17 states have passed “CBD-only” laws, assuring parents who purchase CBD oil to treat their sick children that they won’t face arrest or prosecution from state law enforcement for possessing what the federal government still considers a Schedule I narcotic.
Researchers in New Zealand have studied whether cannabis can be used to treat severe motor and vocal tics in those suffering from Tourette syndrome. The study concluded that subjects who took a controlled THC-CBD medicated spray showed marked improvement in the frequency and severity of motor and vocal tics post-treatment. Although the study is only a small clinical trial, it is one of the first to specifically analyze the effects of cannabis on Tourette syndrome.
Both in Canada and the US, the most critical problem to be addressed for commercial exploitation of C. sativa is the possible unauthorized drug use of the plant. Indeed, the reason hemp cultivation was made illegal in North America was concern that the hemp crop was a drug menace. The drug potential is, for practical purposes, measured by the presence of THC. THC is the world’s most popular illicit chemical, and indeed the fourth most popular recreational drug, after caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. “Industrial hemp” is a phrase that has become common to designate hemp used for commercial non-intoxicant purposes. Small and Cronquist (1976) split C. sativa into two subspecies: C. sativa subsp. sativa, with less than 0.3% (dry weight) of THC in the upper (reproductive) part of the plant, and C. sativa subsp. indica (Lam.) E. Small & Cronq. with more than 0.3% THC. This classification has since been adopted in the European Community, Canada, and parts of Australia as a dividing line between cultivars that can be legally cultivated under license and forms that are considered to have too high a drug potential. For a period, 0.3% was also the allowable THC content limit for cultivation of hemp in the Soviet Union. In the US, Drug Enforcement Agency guidelines issued Dec. 7, 1999 expressly allowed products with a THC content of less than 0.3% to enter the US without a license; but subsequently permissible levels have been a source of continuing contention. Marijuana in the illicit market typically has a THC content of 5% to 10% (levels as high as 25% have been reported), and as a point of interest, a current Canadian government experimental medicinal marijuana production contract calls for the production of 6% marijuana. As noted above, a level of about 1% THC is considered the threshold for marijuana to have intoxicating potential, so the 0.3% level is conservative, and some countries (e.g. parts of Australia, Switzerland) have permitted the cultivation of cultivars with higher levels. It should be appreciated that there is considerable variation in THC content in different parts of the plant. THC content increases in the following order: achenes (excluding bracts), roots, large stems, smaller stems, older and larger leaves, younger and smaller leaves, flowers, perigonal bracts covering both the female flowers and fruits. It is well known in the illicit trade how to screen off the more potent fractions of the plant in order to increase THC levels in resultant drug products. Nevertheless, a level of 0.3% THC in the flowering parts of the plant is reflective of material that is too low in intoxicant potential to actually be used practically for illicit production of marijuana or other types of cannabis drugs. Below, the problem of permissible levels of THC in food products made from hempseed is discussed.
Jump up ^ Datwyler, SL; Weiblen, GD (2006). "Genetic Variation in Hemp and marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) sativa plants are taller and less dense. Indica plants are shorter but a lot more dense than sativas. According to Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms". Journal of Forensic Sciences. 51 (2): 371–375. doi:10.1111/j.1556-4029.2006.00061.x. PMID 16566773.
There is also considerable potential for other industries using hemp in the manner that the automobile industry has demonstrated is feasible. Of course, all other types of transportation vehicles from bicycles to airplanes might make use of such technology. Natural fibers have considerable advantages for use in conveyance (Karus et al. 2000): low density and weight reduction, favorable mechanical, acoustical, and processing properties (including low wear on tools), no splintering in accidents, occupational health benefits (compared to glass fibers), no off-gassing of toxic compounds, and price advantages. Additional types of composite using hemp in combination with other natural fibers, post-industrial plastics or other types of resins, are being used to produce non-woven matting for padding, sound insulation, and other applications.
While researchers are calling for more robust studies on the role of CBD on mood disorders, there is promising research that points to CBD’s role as an anxiolytic – which means it has anti-anxiety effects. Another study showed CBD to have antidepressant effects comparable to those of the prescription antidepressant Imipramine. We noted above that CBD increases levels of glutamate and serotonin – and it’s these same neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in mood regulation.
Israel, another example, has led the way with ground-breaking research into cannabis cultivation. The country recently recognized medical marijuana as an official part of the nation’s branch of agriculture. Israel is already one of the world’s leading exporters of medical-grade cannabis. Recognizing marijuana cultivation as an official branch of the country’s agriculture will open up even more funds to support Israeli cannabis farmers.
Cannabis has psychoactive and physiological effects when consumed. The immediate desired effects from consuming cannabis include relaxation and euphoria (the "high" or "stoned" feeling), a general alteration of conscious perception, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido and distortions in the perception of time and space. At higher doses, effects can include altered body image, auditory and/or visual illusions, pseudohallucinations and ataxia from selective impairment of polysynaptic reflexes. In some cases, cannabis can lead to dissociative states such as depersonalization and derealization.
While cultivating marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin is currently illegal in the U.S. outside of exceptions for state-approved hemp research programs authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, there’s a strong possibility that industrial hemp will be broadly legalized—possibly by the end of the year—once the House and Senate reconcile their versions of a new Farm Bill and put it on the president’s desk.
In early June, I met with Penny Pennington Howard, a mother of three, who lives in Carrollton, Texas, about 25 minutes outside of Dallas. Posted in the glass of her front door are two signs you can’t quite make out from the sidewalk: one asking visitors not to smoke, as oxygen treatments are in use; the other a yellow diamond informing guests this is the home of a special needs child. Penny welcomed me inside, out of the glare of the sun, and led me through her living room into her kitchen, where her kids were gathered for lunch. Seth, then eight months old, was plucking cereal off the tray of his highchair, while Lily, seven, was darting back and forth between the countertop and table. Harper, a blond five-year-old with hot pink toenails, was reclining in her “tomato chair,” a molded plastic seat with straps to help keep her steady.
It is for this reason that all the finished hemp goods that you see for sale in America, from food products to clothing to building materials, are part of an imported hemp industry that has surpassed $688 million annually. The size of this import industry is one of the major catalysts for hemp legalization in the U.S. As a renewable source of a range of products, hemp provides an exciting new step in American agriculture.
A 100-gram portion of hulled hemp seeds supplies 586 calories. They contain 5% water, 5% carbohydrates, 49% total fat, and 31% protein. Hemp seeds are notable in providing 64% of the Daily Value (DV) of protein per 100-gram serving. Hemp seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber (20% DV), B vitamins, and the dietary minerals manganese (362% DV), phosphorus (236% DV), magnesium (197% DV), zinc (104% DV), and iron (61% DV). About 73% of the energy in hempseed is in the form of fats and essential fatty acids, mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic, oleic, and alpha-linolenic acids.