BY MARIE LODI
2018 was the year of CBD. It’s the cannabis industry’s MVP—an unsurprising accolade when you consider that its benefits include anxiety and stress reduction, the ability to fight inflammation, its antioxidant and anticancer properties, and so much more. CBD’s accessibility has also played a major part in its popularity. It can be found everything—from supplements, tea, skin care, shampoo, lube, chocolate, soda, and even treats for your pet. Even though CBD is not legal under federal law, as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC, you can find it in states where cannabis is not yet legalized.
The Brightfield Group estimates that the CBD market will reach $22 billion dollars by 2022. This widespread accessibility will no doubt be beneficial to our society’s health, but with mass interest comes more opportunity for unregulated and poor quality product. That’s why it’s important to know what type of CBD you’re getting, and where it’s coming from.
Cannabis CBD, aka whole plant, whole flower, or full-spectrum extract CBD, refers to cannabidiol being derived from the entire cannabis plant, which includes the CBD, THC, terpenes, other cannabinoids and flavonoids. This allows the product to embody all of the plant’s synergistic components, which, of course, are a major part of the therapeutic benefits. It’s all about that “entourage effect,” baby. According to Susan Cleverdon, co-founder of Humboldt Apothecary, when you purchase a whole plant extract product in a licensed California marijuana dispensary (like MedMen), you can be certain it is free of pesticides.
This is where things can get tricky: Industrial hemp is derived from the hemp seed and stalk instead of the leaves and flower. In other words, it’s lacking the other components found in cannabis CBD. There hasn’t been any regulation of industrial hemp—so no one has been checking to make sure these products are free of suspicious and toxic ingredients like pesticides, residual solvents, heavy metals, bacteria, and other contaminants. (Imagine having your entire grocery list filled with organic food, only to use a type of hemp oil filled with pesticides. No, thank you.)
“Products that you see on the shelves of a health food store or a grocery store and products that you can purchase online are made with a broad or full spectrum hemp extract or CBD isolate,” explains Cleverdon. “The reason they are allowed to be sold in the mainstream is due to the THC content being below .3%.” Cleverdon advises being wary of CBD products that aren’t labeled with potency. “If you're unsure of the quality, go to the website or contact the manufacturer and ask to see test results.”
Hopefully Congress’s recent passing of the US Farm Bill, in which farmers will legally be able to plant and harvest hemp, will be followed by regulation and legalization of CBD. In the meantime, always make sure to educate yourself on the type of CBD you are consuming.
If you live in a recreational state and are 21+, or if you live in a medical state and are a licensed patient, stop by your local cannabis dispensary and check out the CBD options yourself.