The Herbivore: National Hemp Month

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National Hemp Month 2020

By Zachariah Finning


July is National Hemp Month and a commonly known attribute to Hemp is Cannabidiol or CBD. CBD can be derived both from Hemp and Marijuana. Although there is much debate on whether CBD in itself is an intoxicating substance, many have touted its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. Another big factor in the popularity of CBD is the relief it provides doesn’t create the “high” associated with Marijuana and THC. However, some medical patients have reported that having a ratio, or a certain balance of CBD and THC, does have an empowering effect on the medicinal properties of both compounds. In this blog, we will go into the differences between Hemp and Marijuana and explore the difference if any in the CBD that is derived from both.

Hemp has many uses in the world and it has been around since the beginning of modern history. Many believe that hemp was first seen in Europe at approximately 1,200 BC. After its arrival, it spread throughout the ancient world. China may have the longest-running history of cultivating hemp, at around 6000 years. France has cultivated hemp for a known 700 years.  Respectively, Spain and Chile have around the same time frame in longevity (S1). The uses for hemp are wide and varied. Annually 1 acre of Hemp will produce as much fiber as 2 to 3 acres of cotton, and it does not mildew (S2). There are properties and attributes to hemp that makes it good for a multitude of purposes. These include but are not limited to housing, nutrition, fiber, fuel, and food (S2). Hemp is classified in the Cannabis family. However, for Hemp to be considered legal the THC levels in the plant must be below .03%THC (S3).  In more recent years the presence of CBD in hemp has made it prevalent in the Medicinal Marijuana Industry. Marijuana is a cousin or sister plant to hemp. The main two differences between them are the amount of foliage and their levels of THC (S3). Cannabis has thick and lush flowerings and leaves unlike Hemp, which is skinny in appearance and scant in flowering. Cannabis is mostly cultivated for its intoxicating and pain-relieving properties. While a majority of Cannabis plants contain THC as their primary cannabinoid there are more than a few strains that are saturated with CBD (S3). Here at High Mountain Health our High CBD strain Critical Mass CBD won the 1st Place Award for CBD Flower at Arizona’s 2019 Errl Cup. Similarly, our Harlequin high CBD flower won the 2nd Place Award in the same category at 2020’s Errl Cup.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and the availability of a wide variety of products related to its benefits have exploded in abundance since the passage of the US Farm Bill of 2018. This bill made industrial hemp legal nation-wide, which increased the amount of hemp being cultivated across the country (S4). Consumers can find these products anywhere from Medical Dispensaries to pet stores, from local gas stations to even a Carl’s Jr (S4). There are a variety of forms of medicating when it comes to CBD. Options can include but are not limited to:  Edibles, Pills/Capsules, Topicals, Combustibles (Vape or Flower), and most commonly, Oils in tincture form (S4).  Sales of CBD products in 2019 were estimated to exceed $5 Billion dollars. That is an increase of about 706% from sales in 2018 according to Brightfield Group which is a cannabis-focused research firm (S4). CBD works by interacting directly with our endocannabinoid system. There are known receptors such as CB1 and CB2 that are affected by CBD and THC (S4). THC seems to upregulate or deregulate these receptors much more than CBD on its own. CBD tends to affect how our endocannabinoid system works by either enhancing its many abilities or slowing them down, much more than it directly affects the CB1 or CB2 receptors in the brain. This information is discussed in detail within the previous Herbivore Post: Cannabis 101.

So, with the basic knowledge of Hemp and CBD in hand, we can finally ask the question: is there really much of a difference between CBD that is derived from Hemp and the CBD that is derived from Cannabis?  The most basic answer is no. Whether CBD is extracted from Hemp or Cannabis, it remains exactly identical on its molecular level (S3). According to Jeremy Riggle, Ph.D. and Chief Scientist at Mary’s Medicinals, “The CBD molecule and its associated pharmacology are the same, whether it was extracted from the hemp or from Marijuana [Cannabis]. CBD is CBD regardless of where it was originally derived from...” (S3). The natural state of CBD and its properties are not changed by the source of extraction. There was much debate among scientists and entrepreneurs at the beginning of the Medicinal Marijuana boom between which CBD has the most medicinal value. That being said, regardless of the identical molecular makeup and behavior of hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD, there are some factors that do differentiate CBD products sourced from one plant or the other.

Resin is one main differential factor when comparing CBD derivatives. The resin content of each plant differs drastically. Cannabis plants contain surplus amounts of endocannabinoid rich resins in its abundant foliage.  At the same time, industrial hemp plants contain a much smaller amount within their meager flowerings. This difference in amounts of resin explains why Cannabis offers a more abundant source of CBD to be extracted than hemp (S3). This means you can extract more CBD from a pound of harvested Cannabis than you can from a pound of harvested hemp.  Isolate Vs. Full-Spectrum CBD is another major factor that can make a difference in your experience with hemp or CBD in general. CBD Isolate products are CBD options that contain only the CBD molecule. They have no added terpenes or other cannabinoids (S3). Individuals preferring to avoid even minor consumption of THC may get the best results out of a CBD isolate. Full Spectrum CBD on the other hand refers to “the extraction of all of the components — cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. of the hemp plant including low levels of THC” in the words of Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO of Women Grow (S3). This full-spectrum blend of the hemp plant is anecdotally reported and known to give a more “entourage effect” when medicating. Riggle states: “The entourage effect is essentially the synergy, in terms of outcome, that has been observed when cannabinoids are combined with other minor cannabinoids and terpenes. The combined effect is more pronounced in combination than in isolation, helping to prolong or enhance the overall effects [of the CBD]” (S3). Depending on the ailment you are trying to relieve the many different types of CBD related products along with the varying forms of administration that can host a variety of treatment possibilities. When asking which type of CBD is more beneficial it seems nature and science steers us in the direction of the natural Hemp plant and all its properties.

Hemp and CBD have taken the nation and world by storm since the Medicinal Marijuana boom, and more recently since the passage of the US Farm Bill of 2018. Hemp’s history in our own country and the world is rich and deep - so much so that it can be traced back to one of the original forms of tax payment in the US. Fun fact: did you know that The United States Constitution itself is written on Hemp paper?  There does not seem to be any shortage of Hemp and CBD related products available to the public today. The green movement is looking into replacing concrete with hempcrete to help with the ever-expanding cities and populations of the world. Medicinal gurus praise CBD for its beneficial properties from anti-anxiety to anti-inflammation without intoxication or altered states of mind. It is no doubt that the possibilities of Hemp and CBD themselves are just getting started, but they have been making a difference in our world since it was first cultivated thousands of years ago.