Chris H.

Though THC — the cannabinoid most commonly associated with cannabis and which is largely responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects — remains prohibited at the federal level, cannabidiol (CBD) has been gaining ground as a major medical breakthrough.

There is extensive anecdotal evidence showing that high-CBD, low-THC treatment results in relief from a wide range of ailments, including epileptic seizures and Parkinson’s to severe pain and migraines. There are also several animal studies from Europe starting to provide scientific evidence to support these results.

And, because the high-CBD, low-THC products are non-intoxicating, they are rapidly growing in popularity.

As a result, herbal remedies made from hemp-derived CBD have seen explosive growth, particularly among individuals who live in states where medical cannabis is still prohibited, but who wish to experience the widely-touted benefits of CBD. This is because, while pot-derived products cannot be legally distributed on a national level, there is a quasi-legal market for the processing and distribution of CBD-based products derived from cannabis’s non-psychoactive sister plant, hemp — which can be legally imported from a country where hemp cultivation is allowed.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to crack down on some of the more established retailers of these CBD-based herbal remedies, which generally have been able to sell their products online to people from all 50 states.

Ganjapreneur has received a letter sent by the FDA to one such retailer, HealthyHempOil.com. In the letter, the FDA warns that the information presented on the Healthy Hemp Oil website and its social media pages misleads consumers into believing they are buying a tried and true medicinal product. The letter cites several specific violations for the website to address, noting that, “failure to promptly correct these violations may result in legal action without further notice, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction.”

Reports indicate that other companies have received similar warning letters.

Admittedly, we share similar concerns. The FDA’s actions — though easy to chalk up as an ongoing prohibitionist crusade against cannabis — appear to address legitimate concerns over the well-being and fiscal security of American consumers. And remember: this is the FDA, not the DEA, issuing threats. These are the regulators, not the policemen.

The truth is, the retailers of hemp-derived CBD products have been pushing these herbal remedies with research originally conducted on the CBD found in medical cannabis, which — although closely related to hemp — is simply not the same thing. The successful CBD trials to date have by and large been conducted using whole-plant therapy, where patients were using CBD in the presence of a low dose of THC in order to achieve the Entourage Effect, the ultimate source of healing.

Hemp-derived CBD remains an unknown in many senses, and products containing solely CBD may provide zero relief for most people. It is legally and morally irresponsible to present it as something other than that.

It’s not that we don’t support these products or the entrepreneurs behind them, but we believe that cutting corners in the national normalization process is ultimately not going to help the industry.

If you’d like to learn more about the Entourage Effect or the science behind hemp-derived CBD, check out the Ganjapreneur podcast episodes featuring renowned cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo and researcher/entrepreneur Mike West, respectively.

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