What is cannabidiol (CBD)? It depends who you ask. Natural healers say a medical miracle, lawyers a legal liability, and farmers an extra income source. A recent webinar hosted by Charleston Orwig CEO Mark Gale, titled CBDid You Know?, breaks down the misperceptions surrounding CBD.
CBD is derived from hemp, not marijuana, says Gale. Although hemp and marijuana look almost identical, hemp has vastly lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component of marijuana that causes intoxication. Many experts believe acceptance of CBD will lead to acceptance of marijuana, says Gale, and Harvard Medical School reports CBD to be least controversial amongst hemp and marijuana products because it has little to no intoxicating effects.
Gale says CBD is touted as a miracle drug, but most of these claims are anecdotal. Early research suggests CBD may reduce pain associated with arthritis and chemotherapy, but because it is primarily sold as a dietary supplement, it is not regulated by the FDA. Only one drug containing CBD has been approved by the FDA (a drug designed to treat rare forms of severe epilepsy), and the lack of regulation has many calling CBD the new “Wild West.” Important to note, medical marijuana is also unregulated by the FDA because it has not yet been approved at the federal level.
This open playing field has captured many businesses’ attention. Small CBD dispensaries are becoming widespread, but large corporations are entering the market timidly. There are many emerging big names in the CBD industry, but businesses tend to invest in dispensaries rather than leading them directly.
In the food industry, companies with deep pockets that could be easy targets for lawsuits tend to leave CBD-related food products for smaller companies. Banks, which are under federal supervision, are also unable to lend to CBD-related businesses. Amazon, which participates in interstate commerce, is also technically not allowed to sell CBD, but many consumers have noticed hemp oil extract online.
While some companies are shying away from CBD, the agriculture industry as a whole is not. Hemp has been grown for thousands of years as a fiber crop and is being embraced with renewed vigor. Extracting CBD oil from hemp creates copious byproduct, which is being researched as a possible animal feed.
Additionally, Village Farms, a company that revolutionized the fresh tomato market, is showing interest in the CBD market, and IBM Blockchain is investing in technology to track where hemp is grown to its final product. This technology may revolutionize the way fresh produce is traced during food-borne illness outbreaks.
Hemp can also be draining on soil health, however. It draws nutrients and heavy metals so efficiently from the soil that it was grown after the Chernobyl disaster, and farmers must be vigilant in maintaining soil fertility while monitoring the safety of the hemp final product.
To keep up-to-date with the growing trend, check out these additional articles published by PORK.