IS CBD LEGAL? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Weird fact about the overnight ubiquity of these products: selling them is legal. This is true despite the fact that the 2018 Farm Bill signed into legislation by President Trump removed legal restrictions on CBD if it came from hemp plants.
Which is also weird: buying CBD products is legal … at least sometimes.
This paradox is one of many in the use and criminalization of cannabis in the long history of the United States. Like marijuana, cannabis was also a relaxation, a mass element of calmness, but also of medical benefits, such as combating the side effects of cancer chemotherapy.
This tension is something that two professors and their students are trying to better understand at the University of Connecticut, which launched the only university course on marijuana growing earlier this year.
Gerry Berkowitz, a 20-year professor of plant sciences, who co-runs UConn’s new course, said: “There are all kinds of courses for attorneys to better understand the right to cannabis and health care programs to learn how to secure marijuana for medical purposes.” He is the first in decades to focus on such questions as: how does it grow and how can we use it?
Cannabis, grown by humans for at least 12,000 years, is “one of the oldest recorded plants to be used for human purposes,” said Shelley Durocher, a researcher at UConn, who manages the hemp greenhouse for the class. “It’s a fascinating plant that occupies a unique space in the natural world,” said Durocher, who helped shape the modern existence of Western countries like the United States.
The reputation of cannabis has changed significantly since then, from vital resources to social ills, and perhaps in between.
Berkowitz and Professor Matthew DeBacco have launched a course at UConn called “Horticulture of Cannabis: from Seed to Harvest” to meet the burning needs of the burgeoning cannabis industry, with sales expected in the US. reaching $ 80 billion by 2030. Three years ago, another Berkowitz undergraduate student made a field visit to one of Connecticut’s medical marijuana growers.
“The owner said his main grower learned his trade in marijuana cultivation in his basement,” Berkowitz said. Highlighting this, I did not try to overshadow these employees, but to emphasize that many marijuana cultivation practices are neither standardized nor supported by research.
That brings us back to these CBD lotions and slats and how they can be legal and illegal.
Because of the way hemp plants grow and reproduce naturally, many CBD products in stores contain the same drug that makes marijuana illegal at the federal level: THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.
Even if you make sure your CBD is clean, some federal agencies and state laws still prohibit it, even in places where medicinal or recreational weeds are legal.
So, before adding CBD to your routine, it might help us to go back to school on science lessons explaining how cannabis is grown, how that compound is harvested, and how it can be good for you.
What Is Cannabis?
Cannabis has many names, varieties including hemp and marijuana. But these days everyone is considered a species: Cannabis sativa.
Marijuana is any cannabis plant in which technically, the abundant amount is more than 0.3% of the THC-altering drug. Although 11 states and Washington, DC have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, this version of cannabis remains federally illegal and is listed as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Hemp, meanwhile, cannot legally contain more than 0.3% THC. There are almost no restrictions on the hundreds of other compounds formed by the plant, such as terpenes (which are responsible for the “distinctive” aroma of the plant).
A conspicuous contradiction in the law with weeds: marijuana can also produce CBD. If your purified CBD comes from cannabis plants, it is legally federal, but if it comes from a marijuana plant, it is illegal. This is because marijuana plants are banned by the DEA.
CBD versus THC
The most obvious obstacles to keeping CBD clean and legal come from the inability to distinguish between marijuana and hemp plants.
THC and CBD belong to a family of chemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are vegetable oils, and cannabis comes with over 100 versions.
Scientists suspect that cannabinoids protect the plant from UV rays, just like sunscreens for human skin. They think that because a quarter of the weight of a cannabis plant can originate from cannabinoids only, and that cannabinoid levels change when exposed to light. “You will have more cannabinoids at the top of the plant compared to the flowers found at the bottom of the plant,” said graduate student Peter Apicella.
Cannabis produces most of its cannabinoids in its flowers, commonly known as “buds”.
“If they don’t pollinate, the buds will essentially continue to grow and continue to produce cannabinoids,” Apicella said.
This is true for CBD and THC. The only chemical difference between the two comes down to two chemical bonds.
How a hemp crop can sometimes become marijuana
Thanks to the reproduction of the “miracle”, the cannabis crop can start producing only CBD and, without realizing it, become a THC-laden marijuana field.
Let’s say it again because it’s a little hallucinating. The hemp crop, which is legal at the federal level and produces only CBD, can become marijuana. Studies have shown that if two certified hemp plants were linked, most of their offspring could produce THC. In fact, some of these plants will ONLY produce THC.
Most flowering plants have male and female parts. They are hermaphrodites that can actually mate with themselves. But the cannabis plant is an exception because it is almost always female or male. And when plants reproduce sexually, their traits are mixed and once latent genes, such as those that cause THC production, can be replaced at once by active versions.
The other way that THC can Find its way into your CBD bottle
To collect CBD or THC in hemp, farmers harvest the plants and send them to an extractor who collects the medicines and prepares them for sale. The problem is that extracting CBD or THC is basically the same process. If your supplier does it wrong, your bottle of CBD may contain an illegal dose of THC.
“This eventually happens all the time,” said Rino Ferrarese, CT Pharma’s chief medical officer of marijuana extract, frustrated by the poor quality of the contaminated products that flooded the CBD market. Under Connecticut state law, Ferrarese must ensure that its products match the labels on their bottles, which they receive by extracting pharmaceuticals.
Ferrarese said many states in the country do not provide their CBD providers with the same standards and there is no enforcement of federal law.
Extraction can prevent THC from entering the CBD source. To extract CBD or THC from the plant material, all extractions use a chemical solvent. It sounds catastrophic, but solvent is a substance that can dissolve another. Water, for example, is one of the best solvents in nature, but it would not be effective for something like that.
If your supplier goes wrong, you can contaminate your CBD with THC, which can be problematic if your business performs random drug tests. Poor extractions can also leave chemical solvents, dangerous in the case of butane, or even pesticides.
“In the US, we have consumer expectations when we interact with our products, and cannabis should be no different,” Ferrarese said. “Cannabis, as a well-packaged consumer good, should meet the same standards of purity, identity, and composition.”
Before buying a CBD, ask the store how their extracts were made and whether they were checked by an external examiner.
Why you shouldn’t assume CBD is a cure-all
This lack of understanding has led to many misconceptions about CBD, said Joseph Cheer, a neurobiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who specializes in cannabinoids.
The first thing to know is that our body produces our own natural versions of these compounds called endocannabinoids.
Like dopamine and serotonin, endocannabinoids can function as neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that activate or deactivate our nerves. This, in turn, causes or attenuates the electrical impulses that generate our thoughts, our behavior, and our movements.
Our nerves receive these chemical messages through neurotransmitter receptors. Cannabinoids have two known receptors called CB1 and CB2.
Here, the mental effects of THC and CBD differ. THC makes us high because it has a strong affinity for the CB1 receptor, but CBD is the opposite. CBD does not usually interact with the CB1 receptor … at least not directly. Research shows that CBD can increase the endocannabinoids the body creates, and scientists are also looking for “hidden” brain receptors for cannabis extract.
Other evidence that CBD is psychoactive? It can fight a crisis.
The FDA has approved only one CBD-based drug: an epilepsy drug called Epidiolex. No one really knows how it works, but Cheer and other researchers suspect that Epidiolex may alter the amount of calcium that can enter our nerves.
Without going into too much detail, our nerve cells use calcium to conduct these electrical impulses throughout the body. If the nerve cell has too much calcium, it emits electrical impulses too quickly, which can cause a state of distress called excitotoxicity.
CBD appears to maintain a healthy calcium balance in nerve cells, preventing seizures and damage that occurs during seizures
Most CBD products are illegal — but only if someone is checking
So if you buy CBD … and it comes from the hemp plant … and it’s pure … then you’re in the clear, right? Not really.
Yes, buying a CBD is legally federal until it contains more than 0.3% THC, but some state laws place restrictions on buyers. For example, Virginians can only buy and own CBD if they have a prescription.
The FDA has banned the sale of CBD in health products, nutritional supplements, or unapproved foods, which literally means anything but Epidiolex.
The FDA can officially prosecute any company that sells products that state health claims about CBD, especially if those products include the interstate trade of cannabis extract.
But the agency has limited enforcement staff. At the time of writing this article, the FDA only sent out warnings to the violators, though it suggested that its application be extended to federal partners and states if the CBD madness continued. Local law enforcement in states like Iowa, Ohio, and Texas also raided hemp and CBD stores this year.
Those federal provisions, according to the draft, also have a blind spot where a store can sell as many CBDs as it wants, provided it does not claim the health of its products.
A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration told PBS NewsHour that his agency would play a limited role in these offenses. Because the Farm Bill stated that CBD containing less than 0.3% THC is no longer a banned substance, it is no longer within the reach of the DEA, a spokesman posted in an email.
“These are now regulated by the FDA, so we refer them to this request,” a spokesman for the DEA wrote. Another factor: “The DEA is not looking for individual users: we focus on large drug trafficking operations and organizations,” the spokesman added.
All of this is important for CBD sellers and consumers, as the FDA is authorized to check the safest dose of chemicals we consume or apply to our bodies, whether they are applied to medicines, foods, or nutritional supplements.
The rapid legalization of cannabis and CBD has put the FDA in a difficult position. As part of its mandate, the agency must certify the safety of food, medicines and nutritional supplements. But CBD products are already flooding US stores.
Cheer and the FDA warn “against all commercially available CBD products,” because cannabis extract, like any compound injected into the body, can have undesirable side effects.
Studies in humans have shown that taking CBD can cause liver problems, diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue. Rodent research also suggests that CBD can damage the male and female reproductive organs.
If you want to know more about CBD, do not look beyond The Great Hemp Website. We have a lot of resources for you to learn about CBD.