Branding Bud: The ABC’s of CBD: Clarifying The Concerns Around CBD
There Are Three Types Of Cannabis: Indica, Sativa & Ruderalis
While all three produce cannabinoids including THC and CBD, Cannabis Ruderalis—known as hemp—doesn’t contain them in high enough concentrations to produce therapeutic effects. Hemp and its derivatives are legal to import into the United States and ship from state to state—while growing hemp remains federally illegal.
Manufacturers are harshly processing large amounts of hemp to derive enough CBD to call their oil a “CBD product.” This creates a few concerns. Mainly, there are no “CBD Product Safety Standards,” and there is no required testing to confirm the amount of CBD in the product is equivalent to what the makers claim. The process of extracting CBD from plant matter requires the use of harsh chemicals. The more plant matter needed to extract the CBD, the greater the likelihood trace amounts of those chemicals remain.
What is CBD?
CBD—or cannabidiol—is one of more than 60 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. CBD is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. And because it doesn’t deliver the high of THC, it’s being researched as an effective medicine.
CBD has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-depressant qualities. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it works for people seeking relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms and other conditions without feeling ‘stoned.’ According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, CBD reduces, suppresses and combats:
–Nausea and Vomiting
–Tumor and Cancer Cells
–Anxiety and Depression Disorders
The FDA and CBD
The FDA, considers CBD an, “unapproved new drug”—continuing—“many companies are misbranding the products and issuing false claims to consumers. Often these products do not even list their ingredients on the product label.” What’s worse, the FDA conducted tests on many CBD products and found that in most cases, the products contained very little cannabidiol—if any at all.
“Many companies are misbranding the products and issuing false claims to consumers. Often these products do not even list their ingredients on the product label” -FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION
Accordingly, in late February 2016, the FDA issued a warning letter to companies that manufacture and market hemp oils claiming to be “rich in CBD.” By promising cures for conditions such as cancer, autism and epilepsy—none of which have been tested by the FDA—they appear to be violating food and drug labeling laws.
While CBD seems to have therapeutic properties in cell and animal studies, there have been no FDA approved, double-blind, placebo controlled trials of CBD for humans—which is the only avenue to drug certification and legal medical claims.
A work-around for companies selling CBD is to simply make no medical claims and link to outside independent research; then let buyers draw their own conclusions. While the FDA is focusing on medical claims by CBD processors, many experts remain concerned about a bigger issue: Where exactly is this hemp CBD coming from and what’s actually in it?
Today, hemp is mainly grown in China, Eastern Europe and Canada for industrial use as fiber or seed oil—and contains trace amounts of CBD. Some industrial hemp is grown for bio-remediation, as the plant helps leach heavy metals out of tainted soil.
Laws allowing for the use of CBD, but not whole plant marijuana, for medical reasons provide a shield for politicians trying to blunt marijuana reform.
After Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN Special, Weed, in 2014, the United States saw a new restrictive type of medical cannabis law pass in Utah—one that only legalized cannabidiol (CBD) and only in the form of oil. Soon after, Alabama, Kentucky and Wisconsin all passed their own versions of the bill. There are now a total of 16 states that have legalized CBD-rich oil but no other forms of cannabis use. New York passed a restrictive cannabis law that allows more than just CBD, but smoking is still illegal. New York is one of the 23 states, plus D.C., to have legalized whole-plant medical cannabis. That said, while NY law is very restrictive with a pro-CBD bias, it does allow access to more than just CBD medicine.
With 23 states and D.C. passing whole-plant medical cannabis programs and another 16 having CBD-only laws, nearly three-quarters of America has medical cannabis laws on the books in some form. Thanks to this massive surge in medical cannabis programs, Congress and presidential candidates are finally beginning to view cannabis legalization as a voting issue. Senator Rand Paul was the first to openly court the cannabis industry for donations, and has won many friends within the industry for his political perspective.
Now, conservative politicians in conservative states can support medical marijuana, but with the caveat that it is CBD-only, without any psychoactive THC. Regrettably, this is also without the numerous medicinal benefits of THC and other cannabinoids, such as lowering ocular pressure in people with glaucoma, helping trigger apoptosis and appetite in cancer patients, helping combat PTSD, anxiety and more.
A Sobering Summary
The cannabis plant, and everything in it, is illegal under federal law. And even in states where it is legal, it is not legal to ship cannabis products from state to state, or to leave the state with such a product.
With the presidential election around the corner and Congress actively debating cannabis legalization, it is critical that our elected representatives understand the importance of whole-plant medicine and why single molecule CBD-only laws are not the right approach. Current legislation contains an inherent pro-CBD bias and would completely remove CBD from the Controlled Substances Act, while leaving whole-plant cannabis in Schedule II, and Marinol (synthetic THC) in schedule III.
Even with its anti-THC bias, legislation should be passed to allow for better access to cannabis for research purposes, paving the way for scientific study and data that will allow for and bring clarity and balance to the discussion.
About The Author:
David Paleschuck, MBA, CLS – a Seattle-based writer, entrepreneur & marketing expert has had a long career in marketing, branding, licensing and partnership development. He has worked for world-class consumer brands including American Express, MasterCard, PepsiCo and Microsoft. He is currently writing a book called, “Branding Bud: The Commercialization of Cannabis” releasing in late 2016.
Contact him at: [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter at: @dpaleschuck