Hemp oil makes an excellent source for high CBD genetics in cannabis as only the THC content was bred out of commercial hemp strains over the years to meet international standards, leaving the CBD levels intact. The exact opposite has happened with marijuana over the years where recreational use drove selection for THC over other qualities, resulting in CBD being largely bred out of the plants in most samples. High CBD strains such as Charlotte’s Web and many other well known varieties are utilizing hemp genetics in their breeding programs in order to bring back the high CBD dominant genes.
A CBD rich hemp oil will have high levels of Cannabidiol in particular and almost zero levels of THC, while the opposite is typically true with marijuana strains, where most samples will be high in THC and have little if any CBD. CBD is seen as being able to counteract and mitigate many of the effects of THC, so this quality was not selected for in marijuana breeding programs until the last decade or so, as it was not particularly desired or commercially viable.
Just because you see the terms “commercial” or “industrial” Hemp, do not assume that this is an inferior source material for the production and extraction of cannabidiol and other cannabinoids, as this terminology relates to the international rules defining what constitutes “Hemp” and what defines “Marijuana”. Simply, a hemp plant is any cannabis plant that has less than .3% THC, while a marijuana plant is any cannabis plant that has in excess of .3% THC by dry weight. Many hemp strains have generous levels of cannabinoids such as CBD and CBC, and as they are able to be grown legally in many countries around the world, these hemp plants can make an ideal source for the extraction of CBD, as the resultant extracts are not affected by the restrictive laws governing marijuana extracts.
Most of the hemp being used for CBD extraction is currently being imported from Europe. Urban legend would imply that most of it comes from heavily polluted and industrialized countries such as China, but the fact is most of the commercial hemp being used for CBD production is being sourced from countries such as Scandinavia and Czech Republic where hemp farming is embraced. I am unaware of any merchants in the CBD industry sourcing Chinese hemp.
The other large sources for high CBD hemp right now are the many pilot hemp programs that have been established in the states in the U.S. that are allowing hemp cultivation tied to various state Department of Agriculture and University study and research programs. Some state programs such as the one in Oregon, have been shocked that almost all of their hemp farmers are growing hemp specifically for CBD production, when it was assumed the hemp would be grown for pulp, seed and fiber. Many of these new hemp 2.0 farms in states like CO and KY are growing the hemp plants out as isolated females, maximizing the production of flowers and eliminating the production of seeds, marking one of the first times in history that hemp plants have grown in this same manner that marijuana plants are typically grown in. Most hemp is typically grown inter-sexed in fields and allowed to breed and seed.
Much of the industrial hemp used for CBD extraction, will be grown domestically in the near future, if many of the hemp programs are allowed to continue to progress without interference. Some domestic hemp CBD products are already on the market now. While many domestic hemp programs struggled to get going in 2014, many managed to do so and several further advances were made in clarifying the difference between Hemp and Marijuana under law with the 2014 Farm Bill. 2015 is shaping up to be a good year for domestic hemp production in the U.S. Currently, there are 24 states where it is legal again to grow hemp under state law. As well, large CBD companies such as CannaVest are at work in states like KY and TN which are the first states to grow DEA certified imported hemp seed stock. You can watch a video on CannaVest below.
There is a lot of hype currently about CBD rich hemp oils and a lot of misinformation that is spread online about hemp plants in particular, primarily by those that are: 1. Marketing their own medical marijuana products with THC in them, 2. Have a blind “THC whole plant marijuana or nothing” outlook, or 3. Those that are completely unaware of the breeding possibilities with regard to the hemp strains of the Cannabis plant. ALL cannabis plants are capable of producing the primary cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBC, CBG and CBN, when selected and grown for the purpose. Hemp strains are no different. They have just historically been grown for industry and not for cannabinoid production. The focus on Cannabidiol in particular in the last decade, has spurred the creation of Hemp 2.0 if you will. These are hemp plants that are now being grown in the manner that medical marijuana plants are farmed in, instead of the traditional means of growing hemp. Many of these new strains are hybrid strains combining hemp genetics with medical marijuana strains to form new low THC, high CBD cultivars.
One will also see claims, such as the ones levied by Project CBD in their salacious report “Hemp Oil Hustlers”, that imported hemp oils are full of “harsh chemical residues” due to solvent contamination and that people have been sickened by using them or that the hemp plants all come from China, bringing to mind visions of contaminated soils and poor quality control. The fact is, that most reputable companies in 2015 are using costly supercritical CO2 for extraction, which is nontoxic and leaves no residue in the finished oil, as well as sourcing European hemp, much of which is coming from Scandinavia in particular at the moment . Claims about certain oils that have been made by websites such as Project CBD and Ladybud have since been refuted and discredited by the very labs that tested the samples. You may watch the Youtube statement from the very lab in question in the Hemp Oil Hustlers piece, Stuart Environmental here. There is a great deal of exaggeration and misinformation currently with regard to CBD rich hemp oils.
On the other hand, several companies have legitimately been warned by the FDA for unsubstantiated health claims and questionable levels of cannabinoids in their products, but in the same breath, we do not really know if the FDA is capable of accurately testing for cannabinoids as there is much variation in results from one cannabis testing lab to another. You can take the same sample to 3 different labs, and get back 3 radically different results. As with any product, especially in the supplement realm, which is largely unregulated, the golden rule is buyer beware. It pays to shop around a bit and see what is available, as well as consulting reviews, friends, online resources, etc. There is a lot of “hemp hate” that one may encounter online from those deeply embedded in marijuana culture that refuse to see beyond THC and the full legalization of marijuana.
These Hemp based products also offer a great alternative to those who may be interested in the value of CBD but are uncertain about the effects of THC that come along with full spectrum oils produced from marijuana flowers/buds. Hemp derived cannabis oils are currently the only available method of easily gaining access to concentrated CBD and many other cannabinoids such as CBC, CBG and CBN in the U.S. outside of medical marijuana states or states that have legalized marijuana.
Due to the inherent lack of THC in these products, they will not make the person using them feel “high” or cause a significant psychoactive reaction, and this is an important distinction to make when talking about various Cannabinoid preparations where one may be concerned about unwanted side effects in themselves or family members. Current hemp based CBD oils will also not turn up positive on a drug test, unless VERY high doses are taken, in which case, it may be theoretically possible to reach a THC threshold that may trigger a positive result, but this would likely be ruled out in the secondary phase of testing. This would require VERY high doses of most common CBD extracts sold today, far and beyond what most people would likely consume.
While research appears to point to an “entourage effect”, whereby THC and CBD seem to work together harmoniously, with CBD serving to negate and balance many of the effects of THC, as well as potentiating other effects, the effects of THC may not be desirable for some patients, or needed for others, and as such, these Hemp derived CBD oils offer a great alternative to the full spectrum Cannabis oils available to those who live in Medical Marijuana states. Others, who may require THC in their oils, may find that hemp oils do not have the blend of specific cannabinoids that suit their condition. All cannabis oils are different, as are all individual reactions to them. It is not uncommon to have to try several blends or brands of oils to find the one that compliments the condition of your own endocannabinoid system.
A great deal of people seem to be finding positive results using Cannabis oils and CBD, as evidenced by the increasing number of news stories dedicated to the subject as well as numerous legislations being pushed in the United States on both a state and national level to ease the restrictions on CBD products in particular. While these CBD only laws that have been passed in 17 states are ultimately very shortsighted and may only help a handful of patients, it is putting the subject of cannabis oils at the forefront of discussion and helping change the perception of cannabis use.
There have been many high profile news stories done on the subject recently, including those done by Dr. Sanjay Gupta in his highly viewed CNN specials. These are rapidly raising awareness and curiosity in Cannabis as a legitimate, natural, alternative and bringing attention to the efficacy of specific Cannabiniods such as CBD as well as raising understanding of the Endocannabinoid system and its role in regulating our most crucial of body functions. This is representing a truly new frontier in the way that cannabis has been viewed by the public at large for the last 50 years or so.