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Is Industrial Hemp the Best Source for CBD Oil? Analyzing Marijuana and Federal Law Implications

Jane Summers

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understanding marijuana industrial hemp and the meaning

Those who are starting to look into cannabidiol products often find that many websites advertise their products as either marijuana or industrial hemp. The key to finding the right product is to understand these two categories. Fortunately, this informational has you covered.

The cannabis industry is built around two plants, which are broadly categorized as the drug plant and the hemp plants. The latter is cultivated for fiber and seed oils, while the former are often cultivated for their euphoria-producing qualities due to the THC content. However, when the THC content is removed, the hemp can be used for products. Another significant difference between the two is the resin content – the drug plant has a high resin content, while hemp plant has a low resin content.

Under federal law, marijuana was originally defined by its resin content. In the 1973 Marijuana Tax Act originally defined the term, and it then appeared in the 19702 Controlled Substances Act. According to the original act,

“The term ‘marijuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis satvia L. [sic], whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant, its seed or resin.”

Essentially, the part of the plant that comprises of the mature stalk and sterilized seed are not part of the legal definition of marijuana and are not part of the exemptions either. Moreover, federal law provides that the resin of the marijuana plant of any “preparation” derived from the resin is to not be used. On the other hand, medical and recreational brands recognize that the resin is one of the most powerful parts of the plants. It contains THC and CBD and it also features a range of metabolites.

Unlike the resin, the hempseeds do not contain the same substances. The seeds do not feature the same compounds as the CBD-rich oil that is derived from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. The oil is free from CBD, THC, and cannabinoids – but it is still a stellar product that can be used to make soap, nutraceuticals, varnish, soap, paint, and so much more.

Federal Law Today

The original laws assumed that resin was the element that differentiated regular marijuana products from the industrial-grade version. Today’s laws have changed, though. Federal law now characterizes industrial hemp has to have no more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. This low figure derives from a taxonomic report from 1976. Interestingly enough, the report was not intended to be used to express a difference between forms of cannabis.

Recently, the Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to ban hemp from food products, such as hempseed oil. The attempt appeared in an interpretive rule published in 2001, in which it stated that “any product that contains any amount of THC is a schedule I controlled substance.” The attempt failed when the Hemp Industries Association litigated against the administration and in 2004, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the DEA could not ban hemp based on substantive grounds. Though CBD’s legal status was not affected by the ruling, many brands tend to cite to the decision, claiming that their products are legal in all 50 states. This is highly inaccurate, as the law does not legalize hemp and second, even if it did, the circuit ruling is not binding on circuits.

The 2018 Farm Bill also provides for federal approved pilot programs and states can farm CBD, so long as it is for medicinal oil extraction. Kentucky, for example, has several farms that are cultivating industrial hemp for product formulation. The programs are permitted to continue, so long as they operate within federally-sanctioned agricultural programs. The farmers have certified pedigrees. The state’s growers have also come up with varieties that have a high resin content and that cause no euphoric effect either. The product can be used to create CBD oils.

Another state, Colorado, has been cultivating strains of cannabis that have a high CBD content and a low THC level. The issue is that the industry does not comply with 7606 of 2014s Agricultural Act. Rather, the state has many farms that produce hemp for commercial cultivation and though state law permits such cultivation, federal law does not. As a result, a Colorado farmer had to destroy his entire crop recently because his cultivated hemp was beyond the legal limit.

Reviving Industrial Hemp

There are those who are proponents of the hemp industry and one such individual is Joy Beckerman who is president of Hemp Ace International and who is also teaching a law class on

“The Curious Legal Status of CBD and Industrial Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids.” Beckerman understands the significant role that hemp plays in developing an infrastructure for the new industry. As she stated,

“I see the revenue can be immediately generated by the hemp CBD market as leading to the funding of an extensive domestic infrastructure for processing hemp fiber and seed into tends of thousands of natural and manufactured products, as well as CBD oil.”

Though many brands use industrial hemp for their CBD products, the industry may experience issues from such use. For example, industrial grade hemp does not have an optimal amount of CBD oil, it takes a great deal of foliage to produce a small quantity of oil, and there is always a risk of contaminants. The industry has tried to combat the problem by creating CBD paste, which comes from the foliage. The paste is also infused with hemp-derived CBD powder, that may dilute the effectiveness of the product because the power has thinning agents.

Another significant problem is that the processed products also do not have the full-spectrum CBD that is so widely coveted due to the inclusion of terpenes and other cannabinoids. Thus, they may have less of a therapeutic effect. For instance, scientific research shows that products with full-spectrum CBD may have more therapeutic properties than single-molecule CBD.

At the end of the day, given the industry’s continued growth and evolution, it seems absurd that 0.3 percent THC is the legal limit. The federal law is difficult to comply with and unfortunately, not many states do so – even though they comply with their own state’s laws. It’ll be interesting to see where the industry goes in the years to come.

Jane is a regular contributor who learned about the great benefits of CBD a few years ago after starting it herself. Impressed by its effects, she's interested in helping others learn about options that can be helpful for them.

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