Consider the Source.

 

New health and wellness options pop up regularly, making it hard to know what’s worth the time and money. All the previous trends in supplements and therapies pale in comparison to cannabis, hemp & CBD products. Some people have experienced profound benefits way beyond what Rx has done. Others enjoy more general benefits like better sleep and less pain. This industry is coming on like a tsunami while regulatory agencies & law enforcement are predominantly unprepared. 

 

Where should you go for guidance? The local health food store? The internet? Or your friend’s friend who’s clearly connected to a “multi-level marketing” CBD brand? Let’s do a little summary to understand the difference between hemp, cbd and cannabis so that you can make safe and beneficial choices if you ever want to consider this complementary therapy.

 

What are Hemp, Cannabis, and CBD?

 

Technically,  hemp, cannabis & CBD are all the same thing, with variables in plant type and uses. To differentiate, consider hemp an agricultural product primarily for fiber to make textiles (fabric & rope). Cannabis is grown primarily for the health benefits within the plant’s “flowers.” CBD is just ONE of the 100+ cannabinoids unique to the plant. 
The name or description on the package of a CBD product may indicate HEMP mainly to classify itself as a LEGAL product. These products want to maintain distance from THC, which is the cannabinoid responsible for the euphoric effects prioritized by the black market. “Hemp” & “CBD” products must have less than .3% THC to comply with Federal law.
 

Know the Source

Regardless of the product or brand, when purchasing Hemp/CBD, you need to focus on 1) ingredient labels 2) independent lab tests and 3) source.

When CBD is extracted from the plant’s flowers, hundreds of other natural compounds are also pulled out (terpenes & flavinoids) creating a complex combination of medically active compounds. This “multivitamin” combo is considered to cause significantly stronger medical benefits than a product with exclusively CBD.

 

Independent lab testing should reveal accurate cannabinoid content AND any traces of harmful chemicals or contaminants. Extraction chemicals, mold, fungus, bacteria and mites are potentially toxic and harmful to people treating health conditions. Honest reviews on the internet can also be helpful to find a quality product. 

 

Ideally, all medical cannabis products would be sourced from plants grown indoors, organically with high quality nutrients and a intricately controlled HVAC system. Because the FDA hasn’t set specific requirements, it allows less reputable brands to pop up like “weeds” (lol). Some “hemp oil” brands extract from plants grown in chemically toxic soil outside of the United States. Thankfully, safe and clean sources are becoming the standard. 

Access, Usage, Quality, and Effect

Access to products that contain more than .3% THC require eligibility for a medical program or to be in a state that allows “adult use” or “recreational.” Illinois will be the 11th state to launch “adult access” to cannabis on January 1st. That means anyone 21 years of age can make limited purchases by simply presenting their state ID at an Illinois cannabis dispensary. All products sold from Illinois dispensaries are grown indoors under extreme security and maximum requirements for purity. 

 

People in Illinois will continue to access our medical cannabis program because of the extra benefits. Medical cannabis status removes high tax rates and allows growing up to 5 plants. 

Those who don’t achieve desired results from CBD-only products may be considering products with THC while being apprehensive about impairment. As they say, it’s all in the dose. Using a “start low, go slow” approach patients may achieve substantial pain relief with little to no psychoactive effects. 

 

Recently, cannabis and other “vape” products have received scrutiny following severe lung damage including death. This is the result of unscrupulous producers using ordinarily safe ingredients that have dangerous effects when heated and inhaled. The FDA is investigating the sources and will certainly reveal the perpetrators. 

Thankfully, cannabis products are available in many forms so that it can be consumed safely in consistent dosage with controlled effects. Gummies, capsules, topical salves and transdermal patches to name a few. 

 

Even though most of us are slightly suspicious of products that contain THC, it’s been studied extensively and continues to reveal great potential for pain, nausea, depression and muscle spasms while being incomparably safe. CBD’s main therapeutic effects are: anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and anti-seizure. It also inhibits the psychoactive effects of THC. 
For your own exploration into the potential of cannabis, start by reading US Patent # 6630507 Cannabinoids as Anti-Oxidants and Neuroprotectant and continue with ProjectCBD and Green Flower.  
 

Results with cannabis vary widely because each person is unique with their own DNA, life experience, medical conditions, etc. AND each plant varies in its unique combination of medically therapeutic compounds. 

With this information, you’ll be able to navigate the onslaught of new products and brands. Feel confident adding this ancient nutritional supplement to your other health and wellness strategies for better sleep, better mood and less pain. 

Author: Kirsten Velasco

Kirsten Velasco is our Illinois Outreach Manager for The Medical Cannabis Community. She is also the Director and Assistant Secretary of Illinois Women in Cannabis. Combining her entrepreneurial, business and customer service skills with public speaking and patient advocacy, Kirsten provides the positive connection to the public that is fundamental for the acceptance and success of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Program.

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