Hemp Nation
December 21, 2018 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Tucked into the recently passed farm bill is a somewhat surprising provision: Hemp is now legal in the United States. The plant has long been classified as a Schedule I drug, indistinguishable from marijuana. Regulations will now have to be drafted, but already the CBD industry and the state of Kentucky (Sen. Mitch McConnell was a major backer of hemp legalization) are already looking to take advantage of the new environment. Hemp previously.
posted by Cash4Lead (47 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ask Scott's and RJR Reynolds about this.

This is step one.
posted by East14thTaco at 10:51 AM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Mitch McConnell wants to legalize hemp — here's how it's different from marijuana (Jeremy Berke for Business Insider, March 27, 2018)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill on [March 26, 2018] to legalize industrial hemp as an agricultural product.

The Hemp Farming Act would remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances and allow it to be grown and sold as an agricultural product.

While hemp and its more famous cousin, marijuana, are both varieties of cannabis sativa, one of the three main subtypes of the cannabis plant, they're different in a number of ways.

Hemp contains negligible amounts of THC — the intoxicating substance in marijuana— and can't get you high.

Marijuana can contain up to 30% THC, while hemp contains less than 0.3% (per dry weight) THC. Hemp also contains more CBD, a non-intoxicating compound with medical applications, than marijuana.

Hemp was selectively bred for a range of consumer and industrial uses and has been grown in the US for centuries. The fibers from the stalk can be used to make rope, clothes, and other textiles — and can even be used as an organic construction material. The seeds are also edible.
I knew that hemp and marijuana were similar but different, particularly in that marijuana has been bred for its effects, but I didn't realize that hemp had more CBD than marijuana.

And this is good news for a burgeoning medical research field. FDA Green Lights Marijuana-Based Pharmaceutical Drug (NPR, June 25, 2018)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a marijuana-derived drug for the treatment of two rare and serious forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, that begin in childhood but can persist in adulthood.

The drug is made from purified cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound found in the cannabis plant. The drug will be marketed under the brand name Epidiolex.

CBD has medicinal effects, but it does not cause the mind-altering high that comes from THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.
...
Having an FDA-approved, pharmaceutical-grade CBD drug will open up a new treatment option for epilepsy patients by delivering a high-quality, consistent dose of CBD, says Robert Carson a pediatric neurologist at Vanderbilt University who treats patients with epilepsy.

"Our biggest concerns with the artisanal [or supplement] versions of CBD were related to the consistency," Carson says. "We can't guarantee the consistency."

Carson says he will likely prescribe Epidiolex going forward. "I'm always excited about the potential for a new therapy that has been well-studied and has a great potential for benefit," he says.
The article has more information on other studies that were under way as of June 2018.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:04 AM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I’d expect to see hemp herbal supplements showing up on the grocery store shelves in 3...2...1...
posted by darkstar at 11:17 AM on December 21, 2018


I expect to see hemp herbal supplements showing up on the grocery store shelves in 3...2...1...

Hemp-derived CBD is already everywhere around here. The local coffee shop does a "Care Bear latte" with CBD oil and it's ridiculously good if you want a dessert drink (cinnamon, chocolate, and honey). Every time I've taken CBD I have expected it to do nothing, but it always does a subtle thing. It's surprising.

Ask Scott's and RJR Reynolds about this.

How is hemp paper, as paper? As good as wood pulp paper? As good as 100%-recycled paper?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:21 AM on December 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


To be clear, hemp-derived products (e.g., beer, soap) have been legal for a while, but hemp cultivation wasn't until last week. That said, there will likely be a boom in all things hemp now that American agriculture is able to produce it the way it does corn and soybeans (see the corn thread from earlier this week).
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:28 AM on December 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


Wait, Mitch McConnell was in favor of something good? Wow. Anyway, this does seem good. Hemp is a very useful plant, is not a drug, and legalizing it has always been a no-brainer. Classifying it as Schedule I has always been one of our government's more flagrantly idiotic policies.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:45 AM on December 21, 2018 [11 favorites]


Ask Scott's and RJR Reynolds about this. This is step one.

I'd be curious to know what this cryptic insinuation is driving at.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:48 AM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


No lie, this is one of the weirdest good surprises I've ever heard, news wise. It's so good, that I'm convinced it's the first step in a world takeover of some sort. Robot overlords made of Hemp? A new feudal system for hemp growing? I dunno, but this can be a totally positive thing, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:49 AM on December 21, 2018 [6 favorites]


Ask Scott's and RJR Reynolds about this. This is step one.

I'd be curious to know what this cryptic insinuation is driving at.


I'm assuming they want to grow and sell legal marijuana cigarettes. Hemp allows them to plant the fields and get practice industrializing the crop before full federal legalization.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:51 AM on December 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


There was always some stoner who, between bong rips, had some theory about why the government prevented hemp cultivation ("It's all big nylon, man!"). I wonder what those people think now...
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:51 AM on December 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


There was always some stoner who, between bong rips, had some theory about why the government prevented hemp cultivation ("It's all big nylon, man!"). I wonder what those people think now...

They moved to Colorado and are way too high to comment right now.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:53 AM on December 21, 2018 [21 favorites]


Ask Scott's and RJR Reynolds about this. This is step one.

Yeah, this is a shitty start to the conversation.

Legalization of hemp is a good thing, and this is a significant milestone in turning back the "war on drugs".

Snark is just not necessary.
posted by juice boo at 11:54 AM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I just hope it lowers the cost of CBD.
posted by tommasz at 11:59 AM on December 21, 2018 [11 favorites]


I believe the Scott's/RJR comment is about the original reason hemp was outlawed. The big lumber companies, with help from tobacco companies, helped drive "reefer madness" hysteria - racist garbage in the 1930s. They saw hemp as a competitor - at the time, hemp's two biggest end uses were paper (vs wood pulp) and um, "relaxation" (vs tobacco).
posted by notsnot at 11:59 AM on December 21, 2018 [9 favorites]


In the 90s, we were constantly hearing about all the wonderful products that could be made with hemp. This was the push behind things like Hempfest -- how can you hate this wonderful plant that makes the best soap, protein powder, clothing, and oh by the way we're all high as fuck, paper, biofuel, etc. As someone once said to me, it's hemp, it's a fiber. You can't smoke my shirt, dude.

So, here we are. It's legal. You already see the wonder products at Whole Foods. Now let's seem them all everywhere.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:07 PM on December 21, 2018 [12 favorites]


This was the push behind things like Hempfest -- how can you hate this wonderful plant that makes the best soap, protein powder, clothing, and oh by the way we're all high as fuck, paper, biofuel, etc.

The high point for this was when Woody Harrelson went on Letterman clad head-to-toe in hemp. He's gotta be happy now.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:20 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wait, Mitch McConnell was in favor of something good?

Just in time for a White Christmas in Hell.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:23 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


The high point for this was when

I see what I did there.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:27 PM on December 21, 2018 [10 favorites]


I heard this news via the place where I've bought CBD oil before. They were offering a flash 15% discount and included links to the farm bill. Pretty great news, honestly. And yeah, let's really hope this brings the cost down. With large-scale farming and CO2 extraction it really shouldn't be expensive at all, and it's hugely helpful for lots of people's pain and other conditions.
posted by odinsdream at 12:47 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


How is CBD both effective enough to treat epilepsy, yet safe enough for healthy people to take every day? If it has a valid, proven medicinal use, shouldn't it be regulated and dispensed like a pharmaceutical?
posted by Selena777 at 1:24 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Brewers have already been experimenting but I imagine this gives them more wiggle room.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:25 PM on December 21, 2018


The FDA put out a FAQ to clarify their views about THC and CBD. Doesn't seem that positive.
12. Can products that contain THC or cannabidiol (CBD) be sold as dietary supplements?

A. No. Based on available evidence, FDA has concluded that THC and CBD products are excluded from the dietary supplement definition under sections 201(ff)(3)(B)(i) and (ii) of the FD&C Act, respectively.
So adding CBD to anything makes it a drug. Which needs FDA approval. Which isn't going to happen.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:32 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]




I went to this year's Solano Stroll (big East Bay street fair) and there were oh so many handcrafted CBD products. The lavender + CBD bath bombs were selling like hotcakes. And all the pet stores are now selling CBD tinctures especially for dogs and cats. If you had told me ten years ago...etc.

I do remember getting cornered by one of those hempy conspiracy types way back when who believed that hemp was some kind of planet-saving miracle plant that could be put to every use imaginable, and It Was A Conspiracy that it was suppressed. I wonder what he's thinking now.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:05 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


How is CBD both effective enough to treat epilepsy, yet safe enough for healthy people to take every day? If it has a valid, proven medicinal use, shouldn't it be regulated and dispensed like a pharmaceutical?

Well, it is. Just not in the way you're thinking.

In the United States, the CBD drug Epidiolex has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of two epilepsy disorders.[13] The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has assigned Epidiolex a Schedule V classification while non-Epidiolex CBD remains a Schedule I drug prohibited for any use.[14] CBD is not scheduled under any United Nations drug control treaties, and in 2018 the World Health Organization recommended that it remain unscheduled.[15]

The real question is, why did we change our minds about this level of drug scheduling? Or, how did it get that scheduling in the first place? And that's more about politics and morals than science and data.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:10 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Drug scheduling is just political BS with pseudoscientific window dressing. It's got basically no connection to reality or evidence of any kind.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:36 PM on December 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


"non-Epidiolex CBD remains a Schedule I drug prohibited for any use"

So is Epidiolex what's being sold in the states without medical or recreational legalization? How is CBD oil sold by say, supplement stores instead of over a pharmacy counter?
posted by Selena777 at 3:51 PM on December 21, 2018


The real question is, why did we change our minds about this level of drug scheduling?

It's hard to say exactly, but I think it's not coincidental that a shitload of money has been put towards lobbying for legalization.

There's a fair bit of money on the other side, mostly from the usual axis of evil: police unions and social conservatives. But I think they're likely to get steamrolled as the industry gets going: there's no money to be made in being against legalization, really, but a ton to be made being for it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:22 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


How is CBD both effective enough to treat epilepsy, yet safe enough for healthy people to take every day? If it has a valid, proven medicinal use, shouldn't it be regulated and dispensed like a pharmaceutical?

This is a good question, and so of course it has a complicated answer.

The short version is: the human body has a system called the Endocannabinoid system which is used to regulate and modulate pain and inflammation.

Unlike many other drugs which regulate pain (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, NSAIDS, opiates, etc), CBD appears to have no toxic side effects. No LD50, no psychoactivity, no dependency.

Also, Unlike NSAIDS which are COX inhibitors, CBD allows the endocannabinoid system to better regulate itself.

So it can be thought of more like a super vitamin, one that's so "good" that there's evidence it can help with everything from Parkinson's to certain forms of cancer.

It's not a cure-all, but it seems like an incredible discovery, something on par with learning that vitamin C is essential for the human body.
posted by juice boo at 4:36 PM on December 21, 2018 [10 favorites]


Also, Unlike NSAIDS which are COX inhibitors, CBD allows the endocannabinoid system to better regulate itself.

Is this related to why it is that people seem to be able to consume cannabis-related products in large quantities for years and years without developing the kind of tolerance that some other mind-altering substances create? I guess the two things don't have to be related, but it would be interesting if they were. Probably the answer is "nobody really knows yet," given the state of cannabis-related research.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:26 PM on December 21, 2018


Wait, Mitch McConnell was in favor of something good?

Kentucky tobacco farmers need new crops.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:31 PM on December 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I get that that was probably the reasoning (and it may even be good reasoning) it's just startling to find myself thinking, "Yes, Mitch McConnell, that is a good idea that would be good for America and I think we should do it."
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:43 PM on December 21, 2018 [6 favorites]



Wait, Mitch McConnell was in favor of something good?

Kentucky tobacco farmers need new crops.


Old crops, in this case. Hemp was a huge crop in Kentucky in the past, it (and its relatives) grow very well here. Or so I've heard.
posted by dilettante at 6:48 PM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


As a pretty heavy marijuana user, tolerance has been about what you would expect from any psychoactive. It might have built up a little more slowly?

But what I take for a light buzz puts a weekend user on the floor.
posted by thoroughburro at 6:30 AM on December 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


In the US I see CBD for sale casually all over the West Coast. Outside the strict rules for selling legal marijauana; the corner grocery is selling CBD oils and tinctures. Bars in Portland sell CBD infused beer. It's easy to mail order CBD to anywhere in the US from a website, too. I was surprised to see CBD oil being advertised in a Christmas market here in Berlin this week; Germany's pretty strict on drug laws, and Berlin is a city notorious for it being hard to buy weed in.

CBD has become the new miracle tonic, people believes it cures everything from insomnia to anxiety to pain. It does seem to actually do something useful, but it's so poorly studied it's more guesswork and woo than science.
posted by Nelson at 8:41 AM on December 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I dislike being around anyone passionate about weed — I was raised by potheads, worried all the time that my parents would go to jail when they started growing and selling small time — and any strain of marijuana with more than, like, 3% THC does something horrible to me. Anxiety, shame spirals, disassociating...I hate it.

But! High CBD/very low THC strains have been remarkable for helping my anxiety and it was profound to find that I didn’t always have to be low level worried all the time. I haven’t found any CBD oil that does anything for me, but living in Oregon/Washington makes it easy for me to buy flower (I think that’s the term?) from a dispensary. The problem with the dispensaries is that they’re staffed by potheads and I hate going in them, so I don’t really ever go, and when I do I almost always get pushback from employees who insist that the only way to benefit from CBD is to have equal amounts of THC and that if I’m buying something with less than 1% THC there is no benefit. Which is not what my experience is, but you can’t argue with these people.

A question I had when I read about the farm bill passing is whether I will one day be able to buy hemp in “flower” form that I can use in a vaporizer like I can buy marijuana? Is that a thing? And if so, can I one day bypass the dispensary and the people who work there who drive me up the wall? It’s so much cheaper that way, the oil is not only magnitudes more expensive but it seems to be basically snake oil to me. I don’t feel anything when trying it except $80 poorer.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:21 AM on December 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think I've seen hemp in flower form at the local farmers market in VT. You should be able to grow it if you're into that sort of thing.
I don't know anything about smoking hemp. Most places I've seen say you'll just get a headache, but those seem to be talking about getting high, and so to them, hemp is useless.
I personally would probably choose to decarb it and make butter, and probably make cookies out of the butter.

I wonder if just asking for specific strains at the dispensary would be easier than trying to argue with the salespeople.
posted by MtDewd at 7:00 AM on December 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


I’m sure you didn’t mean that last bit to be condescending, MtDewb, but wow. It sure felt that way! I’m not sure why you think I’m picking fights with a stoned salesperson based on my comment. I said there’s no arguing with them, and that they give me pushback to my request. I do, actually, ask for strains using whatever Leafly lists as being available at the dispensary, so I’m making it easy for them. I just want to buy what I ask for and leave, which is how stores normally work, you know?

Their contention is that low THC strains don’t work. But I guess it’s easier not to believe someone’s experience both offline and online, as you demonstrated.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:26 AM on December 23, 2018


Sorry. Nope- I didn't mean that you were picking the fight. It sounded like the salespeople were not listening to you. Just trying to help.
I hope you can get what you want.
posted by MtDewd at 5:03 PM on December 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


MtDewd:
Terpines are where it's at, in my experience. "Live resin", being one of the terms of art I see used here in Pennsylvania.

The bad reaction you get is like me if I go dry awhile, then hit too hard.

I like to describe the light dose as a sort of Squelch Knob, for your head. It reduces the background noise that can cause problems.

Your dose requirement is perfectly sensible.
posted by Goofyy at 6:29 PM on December 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Their contention is that low THC strains don’t work.

They don’t work to get you high, but high CBD/low THC strains are absolutely effective for a number of uses; as you’ve ascertained, these are shitty dispensary employees who don’t know what they’re talking about.

is whether I will one day be able to buy hemp in “flower” form that I can use in a vaporizer like I can buy marijuana? Is that a thing?

In California, at least, there are 3 or 4 commonly sold strains that are mostly CBD with little THC, and they’re sold just like all other strains, as flower and vape cartridges, etc. If your dispensaries carry the brand Care By Design, you can get an oil cartridge that is 28:1 CBD:THC (a typical, unaltered ratio is like 30:1 THC:CBD), screw the cartridge onto a battery and vape your meds (also, oral dosing via vaporization allows for better titration), without getting high. (IIRC, strain names to look for with flower are Charlotte’s Web or AC/DC.)

How is hemp paper, as paper? As good as wood pulp paper? As good as 100%-recycled paper?

So good and cheap and sustainable that (as I recall) it’s the primary reason that cannabis was outlawed—there was no rationale to make industrial hemp illegal, so its cousin plant was demonized and made a narcotic so that hemp could be included and removed from the market. The major players here, if you want to follow the history, are Dow and Hearst.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:11 AM on December 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ah so it was Big Wood Pulp, not Big Nylon.
posted by Nelson at 9:38 AM on December 24, 2018


^ And hey, my half-remembered answer to the hemp paper question sent me down a little rabbit-hole this morning, and it turns out that the paper thing is a poorly researched story (myth, at this point) from a book by Jack Herer (of the eponymous marijuana strain fame). The conspiracy nexus of Hearst-Mellon-DuPont (not Dow) has little actual support as a cause for marijuana prohibition, and a more accurate, detailed history essentially boils down to 'cannabis is illegal because people are racist and controlling'. Though DuPont/Mellon and other vested timber and industry interests certainly loudly supported and lobbied for it.

If you're curious: Hemp, Hearst, and Prohibition (Skeptoid Podcast episode); and Debunking the Hemp Conspiracy Theory (Alternet). However, it appears to be accurate to say that hemp paper is a better choice than wood pulp paper, but on casual internet search there is still much woo to sift through, to get to a reliable answer on that question.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:42 AM on December 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


I got some CBD for anxiety at the start of December and welp, it's a miracle drug for me. Full stop.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:41 AM on December 26, 2018


Just out of curiosity, does anyone have even a rough idea of how much plant material is needed to produce a certain amount of CBD vape oil? Like, does a 0.5g or 1.0g cartridge for a vaporizer pen—which along with edibles seems to have completely replaced smoking at least as far as people I know goes—represent one plant's worth of product? Five plants? Ten?

Mostly wondering because I was trying to compare to tobacco in terms of how much land you'd need under cultivation to satisfy demand, and if there's even enough demand for hemp and cannabis to replace tobacco as a cash crop, which seems to be the idea in Kentucky (and I have to imagine other states are watching closely). Or is one sunbelt state basically going to produce enough for the entire US, if they really do it at big ag scale?

For a baseline, in 2015, Virginia alone produced 49.5 million pounds of "Virginia flue-cured tobacco" (mostly used in cigarettes), from 21,500 cultivated acres, an average of 2,300 pounds per acre. I think that's the post-curing, so mostly dry, product. That strikes me as a lot, if it was a 1-for-1 switch. But maybe it's not, depending on how much CBD product you can actually get from each plant. (I am sorta assuming that CBD oil is the most profitable thing you can make, since natural-fiber rope isn't a big thing anymore, and competing with Canadian pulpwood for papermaking is going to be a low-margin business I'd think.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:36 AM on December 27, 2018


According to this random article I found, a typical hemp plant can produce ~500g of 10%-CBD material at 2,500 plants per acre (so: roughly the same density of your tobacco numbers). That's 50g of pure CBD per plant, 125 kilograms of CBD per acre.

Whether those numbers are accurate is another question.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:47 AM on December 27, 2018


Wow. That's a higher yield than I expected, both per plant and per acre. Just looking at retail prices online, for stuff that's allegedly just CBD oil and not much else (seems to be about $50ish for 1g of 30% oil, or 300mg CBD), and at risk of doing "DEA math", that's like $20M of retail product per acre. Even if you assume that a farmer is only going to get a fraction of that at wholesale, it's a hell of a lot more than the $4600/acre that they might get for tobacco. And I'd imagine all other uses for hemp (fibre, etc.) have to be less profitable than CBD.

Not that I think prices would stay at those levels if a significant amount of tobacco land shifted over. I don't think anyone really knows what the total demand for CBD is, but just for fun and to establish an upper bound, if we say that every person in the US, all 300 million or so, start going through a 1.0g 30% CBD vape pen cartridge a week, thats 90,000 kg/wk of pure CBD, 4.6 million kg/year, or 37,440 cultivated acres assuming a single harvest per year. (Assuming I carried all my decimal places correctly. Feel free to correct my math.)

For context, in 2017 the state of Kentucky had 80,000 acres under tobacco cultivation, though I guess in 2018 there's only going to be 57,000 acres, though that's specifically of "burley" tobacco. (Also, the Feds maintained an official tobacco production quota and price supports until 2004. Jeez.)

But anyway, if those yields are accurate it wouldn't take more than a couple of states' worth of tobacco farms to produce a helluva lot of CBD.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:30 PM on December 28, 2018


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