Let's Talk About Hemp
Updated: Feb 14, 2019
With the passing of the farm bill, hemp is now legal in all 50 states. Hemp has been around a long time. Hemp was a cash crop grown for its strong fiber used to produce products like rope, clothing, and paper.
You may see the word “hemp” around a lot nowadays due to the explosion in the sale of Hemp-derived CBD. Hemp is often said to be an excellent source of CBD, it’s not. Hemp is actually an extremely poor source of CBD (and other cannabinoids).
Hemp contains < 0.5% CBD and less than 0.3% THC (by legal definition). Hemp is also a phytoremediator. It absorbs heavy metals, contaminants and toxins from soil.
So why extract CBD from hemp if it’s not a good source? From a legal perspective, it’s much easier to grow hemp than it is normal cannabis with THC content >0.3%. From a marketing perspective, hemp derived CBD products can boast low or undetectable THC content. This gives consumers the impression their product is pure, non-intoxicating, non-impairing, and just overall non-psychoactive.
Small amounts of THC aren’t going to kill you. What I would be worried about is the contaminants and heavy metals hemp so readily absorbs. Many manufacturers and sellers of CBD products advertise that they laboratory test their products for potency and purity. “Third party tested” or “Tested by an Independent Laboratory” are popular phrases used by sellers. Some products even include a certificate of analysis, but how many contaminants do they test for? The costs associated with such testing increases with the number of compounds analyzed.
A study published in JAMA last year found that many CBD products sold online don’t accurately reflect the content on their labels. The FDA has issued warning letters to many CBD companies for this problem in the past. You can view the list of companies that have been issued warning letters here.
The CBD market remains largely unregulated and has attracted many players eager to capitalize on its popularity.
While the market remains somewhat of a legal gray area, the sale of CBD products closely resembles that of supplements which are regulated like food, not drugs.