Since the possession and use of cannabis has been legalized in Colorado in 2012 the demand for CBD, or Cannabidiol, has increased to an unprecedented level. However this demand has not been met with adequate supply. There are several legal conditions that hinder the accessibility of CBD to medical patients and that stack of inconveniences are beginning to take a toll on customers, distributors, and physicians alike.
One such hindrance is the inability to produce hemp in the United States. Hemp and medical cannabis are indeed the same species of plant despite claims that they are cousins of each other. Plants named “hemp” have typically not been identified with medicinal use as they are typically very low in THC, the compound that is identified with pain relief, appetite stimulation, and antidepressant qualities. New research has revealed the benefits of CBD, though, and much larger concentrations of CBD have been routinely discovered in what is traditionally termed “industrial hemp”.
The convolution of these two terms- medical cannabis and hemp- has not received the attention at a federal level it deserves. Both are classified as cannabis in the scientific context. The two had become distant during the long prohibitive era in the United States. THC was believed by many-and still the United States government agrees- to only get users high. The euphoric sensation consumers enjoy is not considered by the federal government to have benefits to consumers despite evidence that it may inhibit stress in the human brain. Hemp, on the other hand, has been used for centuries as a fibrous alternative to cotton for rope, tall-grass for livestock feed and bedding, and seed for human nutrition, among other uses. The low THC level in industrial hemp has allowed legislators in other developed countries to turn the other cheek as to allow production as a profitable cash crop.
Today, hemp is an industry dominated by foreign economies, namely China. Because industrial hemp usually has trace levels of THC, its production remains illegal in the United States. Thus, all derivatives and products from industrial hemp are highly expensive for medical patients and other consumers in the U.S. as they have to be imported over seas involving international commerce and ground transportation from shore to shore once arrived in the United States. The task of providing a seemingly simple nutritional supplement that does not get a user high in any fashion should not be this difficult.
Despite its illegality in the United States, the nation is the largest growing consumer market for CBD and other hemp products. The net revenue for hemp industrialists abroad has increased from $1.4 million in 2000 to over $11 million in 2011 from the U.S. alone and that was before CBD was popularized as a potentially beneficial product to children with epilepsy. To reign in the multimillion dollar investment to China and other countries, Congress included a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill allowing for research institutions and state Departments of Agriculture to develop industrial hemp strains with no more than 0.30% THC. The development of such a crop has been slow in part because it does not allow the free entrepreneurship of private companies already involved in supplying medicinal and industrial hemp derivatives to expand their operations to produce hemp. Though Coloradans legalized the production of hemp with Amendment 64 in 2012, the amount of strains that meet the 2014 Farm Bill criteria is critically small and still those strains are not being used to develop products for local consumers.
Cannabis providers in Colorado have been trying diligently to get supplied with inexpensive CBD-rich product to little avail. In this regard, there has been very little headway made in terms of increasing supply to those that desire to make healthy alternatives to GMO’s and other nutritional regiments that are endorsed by the government and subsidized to be distributed to their maximum potential.
Even with the inconvenience of cost, it is legal to purchase CBD enriched hemp oil and other products derived from hemp, including seed for vegetable-based protein, amino acids and vitamins, durable fiber for clothing, etc. in all 50 states and in over 40 countries. Still though, consumers that are interested in procuring such products from overseas need to be conscious as to the source of their hemp as many are grown without regulatory oversight in the context of pesticides and other quality measurements that are important for human health.
By: Richard Klassen