CBD Unleashed: Industry Soars as Feds Relax on Medicinal Marijuana Molecule

CBD is made with industrial hemp, which by federal law must have below 0.3 percent THC.
CBD is made with industrial hemp, which by federal law must have below 0.3 percent THC. Aleks via Wikimedia Commons
Though most of the country remains split on legalizing recreational cannabis, recent legislation has gotten us halfway there by legalizing cannabidiol (CBD) at the national level.

Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill in June, which legalized industrial hemp in all 50 states and removed CBD from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s drug schedule. Arizona passed a similar law signed by Governor Doug Ducey in May.

CBD has floated around a legal gray area for a few years now. Just last year, Yavapai County convicted two people for possession of CBD oil. With the new laws in effect, the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office said this month that they will no longer charge people accused of CBD-only possession.

The new laws allow for the growth of hemp and the extraction of CBD so long as it remains under 0.3 percent THC. That means that CBD products derived from cannabis are still illegal for general consumption, but hemp-derived CBD has been given the go-ahead.

It’s good news for those who like to treat cannabis as a supplement as opposed to full-blown medication. Now, anyone, medical card or not, can legally purchase, possess, and consume CBD-only tinctures, concentrates, and topicals.

The news has caused an explosion of CBD stores in the past few months both online and around town.

While patients can certainly still find CBD products in dispensaries, others can now visit CBD-exclusive stores such as Kure Vaporium, which has seven locations around the Phoenix metro area, mostly in the southeast, as well as several other independent stores scattered around town.

CBD Nutritional, based in Phoenix, offers everything from CBD extracts to soaps, chocolates, and bath bombs online and at their storefront, CBD Store AZ, located in central Phoenix.

Owner Chris Campabello started selling CBD online in 2014, before the industrial hemp bills passed.

“There’s a lot of loopholes,” she said. “I chose to believe it was legal. People would sway you in this direction or that direction, but I just had to decide for myself.”

CBD products can also be found in vape and smoke shops, as well as some herbal supplement stores. Articles online also mention the rise of CBD products in bars and coffee shops, used as additives to enhance our favorite beverages.

The use of medical cannabis has led to a rise in anecdotal evidence of the medicinal benefits of CBD. But like much of the science surrounding cannabis, a lot of it has yet to be tested.

CBD runs into the same problem as many cannabis products. Specific, intensive scientific studies must be conducted to verify how our bodies absorb and transport CBD to specific receptors located in our brains and around our bodies.

A single 2014 study found our lungs absorb about 25 percent of CBD inhaled through a Volcano vaporizer, according to research company BioMed Central.

Still, cannabis patients and supplement connoisseurs have found CBD to help with physical ailments like insomnia and chronic pain, and even emotional disorders like depression and anxiety.

Campabello began using it herself to treat anxiety.

“It just kinda reorganized my brain to think different,” she said. “I was able to get out of my shell, get my stuff done. I wasn’t anxious from all the chatter in my head.”

A study conducted on rats at the São Paulo Research Foundation in Brazil found CBD helped alleviate symptoms of depression for seven days.

Also like Arizona’s medical cannabis industry, a lot of CBD markets go unregulated. One study found that almost 70 percent of CBD products sold online misrepresented concentrations. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine tested 84 different products from online stores.

Researchers found that 42 percent of products contained more CBD than stated on the label and 26 percent contained less. Fewer than one in three CBD products had concentrations within 10 percent of what the label stated.

Campabello admitted several companies might just be looking to make a buck on a trend and overstate the qualities of their products. She said she tests for purity as well as for concentrations.

“What else is in that?” she said. “Do we have heavy metals? Do we have pesticide residues?”

The best way to make sure you’re getting good products, she said, is to know your source. Like dispensaries, serious CBD providers will be able to provide test results to demonstrate product quality.
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