Five Fallacies About Hemp

Praise be to all things hemp! Faithful friend of humanity since before the written word, a versatile source of food, fiber, fuel, and pharmacy, a plant with a patriotic pedigree prized by America’s Founding Fathers.

After languishing for eight decades in the wilderness of marijuana prohibition, hemp is making a big comeback thanks in no small part to cannabidiol (CBD), the mischievous, nonintoxicating cannabis compound that has upended the drug war establishment.

There’s no denying that CBD has catalyzed the rebirth of the U.S. hemp industry. In response to overwhelming public demand for CBD, Congress passed the groundbreaking 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized (or, more accurately, re-legalized) the cultivation of hemp on domestic soil. Many American farmers are jumping on the CBD bandwagon, imagining a bright future of Colossal Big Dollars now that hemp is once again a legitimate cash crop. But along with the rush of enthusiasm for CBD as an economic opportunity, a number of fallacies about industrial hemp have taken root.

Fallacy #1 – The Farm Bill legalized CBD commerce.

Not quite. The 2018 Farm Bill defined as hemp as cannabis with no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol and legalized its cultivation in the United States. The Farm Bill also removed various derivatives of hemp, including CBD, from the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Controlled Substances Act.

So now farmers can grow and sell hemp, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) views CBD strictly as a pharmaceutical. And because it had already approved CBD as a prescription drug (Epidiolex) for treating two kinds of pediatric seizure disorders, the FDA asserts that it is illegal to sell hemp-derived CBD as a dietary supplement or over-the-counter drug.

Several states have followed the FDA’s lead and explicitly banned CBD-infused edibles and beverages, though there has been little effort to enforce this policy. The recent decision by Visa, the world’s largest credit card company, to stop processing CBD-related payments underscores the uncertain legal status of CBD.

The DEA, meanwhile, retains jurisdiction over CBD extracted from “marijuana” (cannabis with more than 0.3 percent THC), which is still prohibited under federal law. Rooted in reefer madness racism and enforced disproportionately against ethnic minorities, marijuana prohibition is akin to the Confederate statue still standing, a sign of ongoing social injustice. By carving out a legal loophole only for hemp, the Farm Bill perpetuates this shameful scandal.

The Farm Bill – which a cynic might refer to as the ‘Keep Marijuana Illegal Bill’ – is seriously flawed. It solves some problems, while creating others. Like a patch designed to correct defective software, the Farm Bill attempts to fix the unfixable. In this case, the defective software is the Controlled Substances Act, an odious edifice built upon a mountain of lies. Consequently, the legal status of CBD commerce remains mired in contradiction.

Fallacy #2 – The definition of hemp as distinct from marijuana is based on sound science.

The molecular structure of CBD is the same irrespective of its botanical source, but CBD extracted from a hemp plant is no longer a controlled substance while CBD extracted from marijuana is federally illegal. CBD is currently both a Schedule One drug, a category reserved for dangerous drugs with no medical value, and a Schedule Five pharmaceutical, the safest designation possible for a controlled therapeutic substance.

There is no logical basis for distinguishing between hemp with 0.3 percent THC and cannabis with 0.4 percent THC, as stipulated according to federal law. The ‘0.3 percent THC or less’ definition for hemp is a political distinction without a scientific foundation.

Where did the 0.3 percent THC qualifier come from? It stems from a 1976 taxonomic report by Canadian plant scientists Ernest Small and Arthur Cronquist, who never meant for 0.3 percent THC to function as a legal demarcation between hemp and other forms of cannabis. But that’s what has happened.

To cut to the chase, the 0.3 percent THC legal limit for hemp is an arbitrary, impractical, irrational relic of reefer madness. Although it lacks scientific validity, it has become the cornerstone of cannabis prohibition, a discredited, anachronistic policy that impedes medical discovery and patient access to effective therapeutic options, including herbal formulations with various mixtures of CBD and THC, both of which have important remedial properties, especially when combined.

Fallacy #3 -The federal government conspired with big business to make hemp illegal.

Why did hemp become illegal in the first place? The notion of an anti-hemp conspiracy involving corporate and government collusion has become Holy Writ among some cannabis proponents. The operative assumption is that anything made from trees or petroleum could also be made from hemp. Thus, DuPont, a manufacturer of plastics, supposedly sought to eliminate hemp because it was a natural competitor to the emergent plastics industry.

This theory also posits that the Hearst newspaper chain railed against “marihuana” because Hearst wanted to vanquish a paper business rival. But the Hearst syndicate always needed more paper for newsprint and, if anything, it would have been in Hearst’s interest to grow lots of hemp as a source for making paper.

There’s no smoking gun, let alone much evidence, showing that Federal Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger was acting at the behest of DuPont or press baron William Randolph Hearst when America’s top narc launched the “reefer madness” crusade to outlaw marijuana in the 1930s.

When it comes to conspiracies – and, yes, they’re everywhere to the point of banality – better to look first for the lowest common denominator, the mundane explanation, to see what’s plausible. Screaming headlines and scare stories sell newspapers. Hearst’s anti-marihuana hyperbole was racist and opportunistic to the core. Ditto for Anslinger, whose entire government department was on the chopping block during the Great Depression.

Anslinger had sufficient motive and means to demonize marihuana, “the evil weed,” in order to preserve and expand his bureaucratic fiefdom. Reefer madness, a racist propaganda campaign, was his way of avoiding budget cuts and inflating his self-importance. He had a key ally in Hearst, an outspoken supporter of fascism and anti-Mexican ethnic cleansing.

Hearst and Anslinger were the main engines behind marihuana prohibition, a policy that some speculate was implemented to benefit the business interests of DuPont, a major client of Mellon Bank. Ex-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon was Anslinger’s former boss and his uncle by marriage. All these associations are intriguing and suggestive. But covert corporate machinations in this case probably account for much less than endemic racism, boardroom bigotry, and bureaucratic self-interest.

Fallacy #4 – Industrial hemp doesn’t need pesticides and therefore it’s not necessary to regulate or restrict the use of pesticides on hemp.

Hemp is a hardy, adaptable botanical that feasts on sunlight and thrives in various climates. It acts as a “bio-remediator” that can remove heavy metals and other toxins from a polluted landscape. But this eco-friendly, soil-rejuvenating plant is not immune to mold or pest infestation.

Hemp and psychoactive cannabis (marijuana) have innate defense mechanisms that protect against predators and disease. The sticky gooey resin that is concentrated on the leaves and flower tops of psychoactive cannabis contains a treasure trove of medicinal and aromatic compounds – including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – and some of these compounds have antifungal, antibacterial, and insecticidal properties. The stickiness of cannabis resin adds another defensive layer by trapping bugs.

But sometimes the plant’s innate defense capabilities aren’t sufficient to save a crop, as many cannabis farmers have learned from bitter experience. Industrial hemp grown for fiber or seed oil are low-resin plants compared to high-resin drug plants. Resin-deficient industrial hemp is more vulnerable to mold and pests – and is therefore more likely to require pesticides and fungicides – than high-resin cannabis.

Fallacy #5- Industrial hemp is a good source for extracting CBD oil.

The CBD molecule is exactly the same whether extracted from industrial hemp or other forms of cannabis. But the quality of the CBD products made from industrial hemp that’s grown for fiber or seed protein is typically inferior to the products made from CBD-rich “drug” plants that are grown specifically for medicinal oil extraction.

CBD is the most common cannabinoid present in industrial hemp, but the CBD levels top out at about 3.5% by dry weight – much less than the remarkable varieties of CBD-rich cannabs flower grown for medicine that can reach as high as 20% CBD by dry weight. Because industrial hemp produces relatively small amounts of CBD, a huge amount of hemp biomass is necessary to produce a significant quantity of CBD oil.

Such a large amount of plant material means there’s a greater likelihood that toxic contaminants will be concentrated in the CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp, which will suck up and absorb any pesticides or heavy metals present in the soil through a process known as “bioaccumulation.” This is excellent for cleaning up a toxic waste site, but not so good for medicinal oil extraction and production. Industrial hemp and its extracts usually aren’t subject to stringent (state-level) regulations governing pesticide and solvent residues, and these contaminants end up in CBD products manufactured by unscrupulous producers.

It’s noteworthy that the phrasing of the 2018 Farm Bill refers to “hemp” rather than “industrial hemp.” The decision to drop the word “industrial” from legislative parlance is a reflection of the primacy of CBD in the brave new world of legal hemp. Industrial hemp cultivated for fiber and seed isn’t CBD-rich. But new high-resin cannabis cultivars are becoming available that have been bred specifically to produce copious quantities of CBD with less than 0.3 percent THC, thereby satisfying the federal government’s absurd legal criteria for hemp.

Martin A. Lee is Project CBD’s cofounder and Director, and Zoe Sigman is Project CBD’s Program Director.


Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.


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CBD Might Help You Cut Back On Drinking Alcohol And Reduce Its Damaging Effects, Study Says

CBD, the widely available cannabinoid touted for various health benefits, may have the potential to help people with serious alcohol issues, according to a new review of current scientific evidence.

Not only does cannabidiol appear to “facilitate drinking reduction,” the paper’s authors write, but research also shows the compound “may provide idiosyncratic protection to the liver and brain, which could reduce the development and impact of alcohol-related liver disease and alcohol-related brain injury.”

The review, which is awaiting publication in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, offers a comprehensive look at how promising the data is so far regarding the effectiveness of CBD on alcohol use disorders (AUD). The authors, however, also call for human clinical trials, of which none have been published to date, to “pave the way for testing new harm reduction approaches in AUD.”

Researchers in France and Belgium reviewed 26 previous studies published between 1974 and June 2018 that explored the effects of CBD on animal subjects dosed with ethanol. They found several studies that showed CBD can reduce alcohol consumption. In one, for example, researchers discovered that mice administered CBD were less motivated to work (in this case, push a lever) for access to a liquid solution that included 8 percent of ethanol.

“Experimental studies converge to find that CBD reduces the overall level of alcohol drinking in animal models of AUD by reducing ethanol intake, motivation for ethanol, relapse, and by decreasing anxiety and impulsivity.”

Other studies found that mice regularly dosed with the non-intoxicating marijuana compound were also less likely to relapse after they’d been weaned off alcohol, even when they were stressed.

Because of its impact on various aspects of the disease (including “intake, motivation, relapse, anxiety and impulsivity”), CBD “could have a significant action on drinking levels in human subjects with AUD” the review’s authors write. They add, however, that it would be useful to have data using binge-drinking models and models that focus on long-term exposure to alcohol.

The review also highlighted evidence showing CBD could affect alcohol-related liver inflammation. In one study, researchers found that the livers of mice that’d been given the compound prior to being force-fed alcohol every 12 hours for five days were less damaged than those of mice not exposed to CBD.

“CBD seems to have valuable therapeutic properties for ethanol-induced liver damage, through multiple mechanisms,” including the reduction of oxidative stress, inflammation control, and the death of certain cells responsible for large amounts of scar tissue, the authors write.

Finally, CBD may also offer added protection to specific areas in the brain susceptible to alcohol-related damage. In one study, the brains of rats who’d binged on alcohol and given CBD were found to have lost “significantly” fewer brain cells in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. In those rats, CBD acted as a “neuroprotective antioxidant,” the review states. In another experiment, CBD also appeared to restore the neurological and cognitive functions of rats in acute liver failure.

“CBD has been found to reduce alcohol-related brain damage, preventing neuronal loss by its antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties.”

The authors suggest these overall benefits of CBD regarding problematic alcohol use may be due to the “complex” way the cannabinoid interacts with CB2 receptors, which are located throughout the body.

Currently, the review states, the pharmaceuticals available to help people with AUD stop drinking are “insufficiently effective at a population level, and new therapeutic prospects are needed. Moreover, no drug for reducing alcohol-related harms, either on the brain or the liver, has ever been studied.”

Plus, the authors conclude, “CBD could have many more positive effects in subjects with AUD, including antiepileptic, cardioprotective, anxiolytic, or analgesic ones. Human studies are thus crucially needed to explore the many prospects of CBD in AUD and related conditions.”

Meanwhile, there’s still time to submit public comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on how the federal government should regulate CBD products, including supplements and foods. So far, hundreds of people have submitted information. The public comment period ends July 2.

FDA Is Taking Public Comments On CBD. Here’s How To Make Your Voice Heard

Photo by Kimzy Nanney.

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CBD Can Help Curb Heroin Cravings, New Study Finds

The record-breaking climb in US overdose deaths–which now outnumber peak annual deaths from car crashes, guns, and HIV–has led some to second-guess cannabis legalization. But a new study suggests cannabinoids may actually help people wean themselves off deadly drugs.

“CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder.”

Yasmin Hurd, director, Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai

The study, by researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, looked at 42 individuals with problem heroin use disorder who abstained from heroin during the program. Researchers found that individuals who were given CBD experienced significantly reduced heroin cravings–both immediately and in the longer term.

The study was published Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder,” Yasmin Hurd, lead author of the study and director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai, said in a statement.

We’ve known for a while now that the availability of medical cannabis is associated with lower opioid prescription and overdose death rates. What’s been less clear is whether cannabinoids can reliably help individuals disrupt problem drug use.

Participants in the Mount Sinai experiment were given either CBD or a placebo and then presented with three-minute videos featuring either “neutral cues”–including relaxing nature scenes–or “drug-related cues,” such as intravenous drug use, syringes, or packets of powder that resembled heroin. The CBD dosages were quite large–either 400 mg or 800 mg of CBD–and taken daily as an oral solution for three consecutive days.

As participants watched the videos, researchers measured opioids cravings, anxiety, and other health indicators, such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and blood oxygen levels. The measurements were taken at three video sessions conducted at various times: immediately after administering CBD or the placebo, 24 hours later, and a week after the final dose. The results were remarkable:

The study team found that CBD, in contrast to placebo, significantly reduced both the craving and anxiety induced by drug cues compared with neutral cues in the acute term. CBD also showed significant protracted effects on these measures seven days after the final short-term exposure. In addition, CBD reduced the drug cue-induced physiological measures of heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. There were no significant effects on cognition, and there were no serious adverse events. The capacity of CBD to reduce craving and anxiety one week after the final administration mirrors the results of the original preclinical animal study, suggesting that the effects of CBD are long-lasting, even when the cannabinoid would not be expected to be present in the body.

This isn’t the first time Hurd and her team have explored CBD’s impacts on heroin use. But previous studies focused on animals–finding that their heroin cravings could be reduced with CBD–and Hurd was eager to expand research involving humans.

“To address the critical need for new treatment options for the millions of people and families who are being devastated by this epidemic, we initiated a study to assess the potential of a non-intoxicating cannabinoid on craving and anxiety in heroin-addicted individuals,” Hurd said. “A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic.”

The study’s findings, the hospital said, suggest a role for CBD “in helping to break the cycle of addiction.”

“The specific effects of CBD on cue-induced drug craving and anxiety are particularly important in the development of addiction therapeutics,” Hurd explained, “because environmental cues are one of the strongest triggers for relapse and continued drug use.”

While the initial study is relatively small, it’s likely to fuel continued research into the use of cannabinoids and opioids. Already Hurd’s research team is working on two follow-up studies aimed at putting a dent in the overdose epidemic. One explores the mechanisms of how CBD affects the brain, while the second looks at unique medical cannabis formulations that Mount Sinai said “are likely to become a significant part of the medical arsenal available to address the opioid epidemic.”

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Meet Geraniol, the Sweet Cannabis Terpene With a Citrus Aroma

All the nuances and characteristics in the flavor profile of a cannabis strain come from the terpenes within it. From commonly found compounds like myrcene to rarely seen players like phellandrene, each terpene in cannabis plays a distinct role in creating a unique aromatic fingerprint of a strain.

Some terpenes play a larger role in the foundational character of a strain, while others add accents and complexity. Cannabis strains with fruity and floral aromatic profiles may owe their uniquely sweet scents in part to a lesser-known terpene called geraniol.

Although not prevalent in a lot of cannabis, geraniol is known for its delicate rose and floral profile, providing a sweetness to strains like Agent Orange and Black Cherry Soda. It also has a host of potential medical uses including pain reduction, and anti-inflammatory and antifungal benefits.

Geraniol’s Unique Profile

This terpene’s name may sound familiar because it’s derived from the geranium plant, the herb known for its citrus scent and insect-repelling properties. However, geraniol’s somewhat peculiar aroma brings in more subtle notes of rose and fruits, playing a softer role than the strong citrus smells of citronella oil that are found in geraniums.

Geraniol can also be found in:

  • Rose oil
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemons
  • Peaches
  • Grapefruits
  • Oranges
  • Carrots
  • Coriander
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries

Perhaps the strangest synthesis of geraniol is within honey bees, who produce it in their scent glands as both a marker for nectar-bearing fruits and as a territorial mechanism to thwart off potentially dangerous colonies from creating a hive or taking over a pollination site.

The subtlety of geraniol’s rose and floral notes, which are accentuated by slight citrus tones, make this terpene a major player in the fragrance industry. Geraniol can be found as an additive to a plethora of perfumes, colognes, lotions, detergents, candles, as well as many other household products.

You can even find this terpene used as a food additive, especially in pastries and desserts.

Cannabis Strains Containing Geraniol

Although this secondary terpene can be found in negligible quantities across a wide variety of strains, higher concentrations of geraniol have been found in the following strains:

The Potential Medical Benefits of Geraniol

Geraniol has been at the center of a handful of studies and demonstrates therapeutic potential. Its pharmacological potential as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory were brought to light in this 2015 review.

Geraniol was also found to be an effective antifungal and antibacterial when put up against 18 varieties of bacteria and 12 varieties of fungi in another study.

Essential oils with geraniol have also been found to have potential tumor-reduction properties in cancer cells, and may even be able to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells.

Animal studies, primarily on hamsters and rats, have shown the potential of geraniol to manage diabetes and hyperglycemia, as well as to help mitigate the symptoms of atherosclerosis, a condition that causes the formation of plaque in the arteries.

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Female Forward: Periods, Hormones and THC

Hormones are powerful chemicals that are constantly fluctuating and influencing the ways in which our bodies respond to our environments. Sex hormones, and in particular those produced in the ovaries, have been shown to play prominent roles in regulating cognitive and behavioural functioning of cisgender women.*

There are two studies that examine the relationship between cannabis and the menstrual cycle, both of which were done in the 1980s. Neither study satisfies the ‘gold standard’ of scientific inquiry: a randomized double-blind placebo study, large sample groups and few limiting and/or confounding factors.

The first study was on self-reported cannabis use during the menstrual cycle. The sample size was small with only 28 women included. Further, the nature of the study design did not account for the different ways in which women consume cannabis.

The second study was at least randomized and double-blind, but still does not reflect modern cannabis use: the potency of THC used was 1.8% and the sample size was, again, small. Currently, the average percentage of THC per strain is 7-10% and some strains can go as high as 25%!

The study found that there were no significant relationships between THC and sex hormones in women. However, based on the potency of THC used, take these results with a grain of salt.

Instead, let’s examine the specific effects THC has shown to have on ovarian hormones and vice versa.

Like Hormones, Tolerance Can Fluctuate

Women generally have higher tolerances for THC compared to men, for a few reasons.

Consider the chemical properties of THC. It is lipophilic, meaning that when it crosses paths with fat cells, it will attach itself to them. You may have heard that THC can stay in your system for weeks to months beyond abstinence–this is why.

For evolutionary purposes, women have higher fat percentages than men, resulting in higher amounts of THC going to fat cells rather than the bloodstream when ingested by women versus men. The result? Not as much THC circulates to get to your brain for that ‘high’ effect to take hold.

Another reason women have a higher tolerance to THC is ovarian hormones. However, which ovarian hormone we are talking about matters. The amount of tolerance you experience depends on which phase of your menstrual cycle you’re in.

The Estrogen (Estrus) Phase

A menstrual cycle is typically 28 days long. The two weeks is called the estrus phase, or how I like to call it, the ‘sexy’ phase: it builds up until you release your egg and ovulate. Those two blissful weeks where acne and pimples lay to rest and B.O. remains a non-issue is evolutionarily, on purpose.

During this phase your ovaries are producing estrogen, the ‘come hither’ hormone– it’s meant to find you a mate, among other things. It heightens your sexual prowess, which includes your sensitivity. Greater awareness generally indicates an animal-like ‘on the hunt’ state.

Studies using rat models have shown that during the estrus phase, females were more sensitive to THC compared to the diestrus phase, the last two weeks of your cycle. Studies conducted on humans examining the effects of caffeine, alcohol, and stimulants found similar results: during the estrus phase, women felt they were more sensitive to the effects of these substances.

During the diestrus phase (ie. after ovulation), sensitivity to cannabis decreases, along with everything else. Progesterone becomes your ovaries’ best friend and you are left feeling cranky, tired, and agitated when these levels are high.

The Progesterone (Diestrus) Phase

The dynamics between THC and female sex hormones can vary. So far, estrogen and THC seem to have a cordial relationship where they build each other up–but what about progesterone?

Poor progesterone, nobody likes them. No surprise there: it’s the major culprit for PMS.

High progesterone levels are correlated with mood swings, tender/sore breasts, fatigue and acne, among others.

Luckily, studies conducted on rhesus monkeys (at least we’re in the primate category!) show that THC reduced the amount of progesterone produced in the diestrus phase. This was not a direct inhibition, which means it ‘modulated’ the production of progesterone–a safer version than simply arresting its production directly.

It’s no wonder that many women are turning to cannabis products during PMS and menses: it helps to level out the effects of progesterone and satisfy a physiological need for cannabinoids.

What I mean by ‘physiological need’ is that studies have shown that CB1 receptor increases in the hypothalamus during the diestrus phase. This means that your body is in demand for cannabinoids–whether you are producing them yourself or ingesting them through cannabis.

Additional studies are needed on the subject of female sex hormones and cannabis. Hormones are highly complex: there are layers to which they affect cognitive functioning (short-term and long-term), physiological changes (CB-1 receptor fluctuation), and their role in the female reproductive system.

However, some things are beginning to be clear. The estrus phase can cause a heightened state of awareness, which tends towards greater sensitivity towards mind-altering substances. The diestrus phase produces progesterone and increases CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus–both of these changes can be helped by a spoonful of THC in the diet.

That being said, consume in moderation and consult your physician if you experience severe symptoms associated with PMS.

*This article uses the terms women, females, men, and males in reference to biological sex.

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Hey, Officer! Stop Arresting Grandma for Her CBD Oil

‘The Haymaker’ is Leafly Deputy Editor Bruce Barcott’s opinion column on cannabis politics and culture.

Hester Burkhalter is my new hero.

Burkhalter is the 69-year-old North Carolina great-grandmother who was arrested last month at an Orlando Disney World security checkpoint after a guard found a small bottle of CBD oil in her purse.

Cops in Orlando opened a new front in the CBD wars when they arrested this badass great-grandmother at Disney World.

Instead of returning grandma’s arthritis medicine to her purse, like a decent person, the guard alerted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies came a-running.

Burkhalter began her morning expecting to enjoy the Magic Kingdom with her family. Instead she spent 12 hours experiencing all the pleasures the Orange County Jail has to offer. Prosecutors ultimately dropped the cannabis possession charge against her, saying the case wasn’t suitable for prosecution.

Before she left Orlando, though, Hester Burkhalter laid down one of the greatest mug shots I’ve ever seen.

Hester Burkhalter, 69, gives the Orange County Sheriff’s Department a healthy dose of F-you in her mug shot. She’ll see you in court, Orlando.

Smile for the Camera

That is one badass great-grandma. Giving the camera nothing but Blue Steel, pursed lips, no apologies, ready to rip the entire county a new one. And she will–Burkhalter has hired Benjamin Crump, the high-profile lawyer who represented Trayvon Martin’s family. A multimillion-dollar lawsuit is expected to be filed within days. Her gaze at the camera says: I am not wrong.

I wish Hester Burkhalter’s case was an outlier. Sadly, it’s not. The only reason she made the national news is because she was arrested at Disney World.

There are plenty of other grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters being arrested for CBD possession who don’t have the option of retaining the services of Benjamin Crump.

Confusion Reigns Nationwide

Back in December, when Congress ended the federal prohibition of hemp via the farm bill, we here at Leafly worried about the fallout. Hemp is legally defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC, which means it could register as marijuana on a law enforcement field test. Would drivers of delivery trucks loaded with hemp get arrested as drug smugglers? Would people seeking pain relief with hemp-derived CBD get popped for “cannabis oil” possession?

The answer: Yes they would. The cases are piling up:

  • Oklahoma: Andrew Ross, a Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, is facing 18 years to life for providing security for a tractor-trailer load of state-certified hemp from Kentucky.
  • Idaho: An Oregon truck driver was charged with drug trafficking for hauling hemp through Idaho in early April.
  • Ohio: Robert Faulker, 31, was charged with a felony for possessing a half-ounce of CBD oil he takes for anxiety.
  • Nebraska: A mother and her son who opened a CBD shop days after passage of the 2018 farm bill were arrested in Scottsbluff for selling the products.
  • North Carolina: A 16-year-old high-school student was handcuffed and taken to jail when a Gaston County Police Department resource office, conducting a random search, found her medicinal CBD in her backpack.
  • Louisiana: The owner of a Lafayette CBD store was arrested in a raid last month and charged with drug trafficking.

I could go on. (I haven’t even touched on Texas. Hoo boy.)

Well, Is It Legal or Illegal? Yes.

In 2019, we’re living through a transitional phase. Psychologists would call it a liminal state between legality and illegality. It’s a period in which hemp-derived CBD is simultaneously allowed nationwide and prohibited locally.

Today, CBD oil is legal as lemonade in Rapid City, but it’s a felony in Sioux Falls.

Those laws are so confusing that they can vary wildly even within a single state. In South Dakota’s Pennington County, the prosecutor recently declared that he would not prosecute any CBD cases because the products “are not scheduled and are not marijuana under our statutes.” Meanwhile, last month in Minnehaha County, police arrested 57-year-old Bernard Davis, a visiting Alaskan, for having a small bottle of CBD oil in his carry-on bag at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport. So basically, CBD oil is legal as lemonade in Rapid City, but it’ll earn you a felony charge in Sioux Falls.

A number of state legislatures have attempted to deal with the new reality thrown at them by the farm bill. Louisiana, among other states, recently tried and failed to agree on regulations surrounding hemp and CBD. In other states, like South Dakota, the British company GW Pharma has successfully lobbied to keep CBD illegal while creating a loophole for its own FDA-approved CBD product, Epidiolex. (For what it’s worth, that’s the exact position the DEA has taken on CBD extracts: Epidiolex is now Schedule IV, while all other extracts remain Schedule I.)

Police: Exercise Common Sense

As we wait for state laws to catch up to the federal farm bill, it falls on individual police officers to carry out the most single most important part of their job: exercising discretion and common sense.

Here’s a tip, officer: Read a damn newspaper. Take five minutes to learn what CBD is.

Many of the cases cited above made news because the officer on the scene simply hadn’t taken the time to read up on CBD and hemp. They went into robocop mode: If the oil smells like weed, cuff ’em and book ’em.

Here’s a tip, officer: Read a damn newspaper. Keep up on what’s happening in the world. Take five minutes to learn what CBD is and how it differs from marijuana. And put that knowledge into action. Police exercise discretion and judgment every minute they’re on the job. Some drivers get warnings, others get tickets. Some beer-drinking kids get sent home to their parents, others get taken to juvie. (The well-documented racial inequities that result from this discretion is a national outrage, of course. But that’s a column for another day.) When cops throw up their hands and say “I don’t write the laws, I just enforce them,” they’re lying.

Sadly, the substance we’re dealing with here is a form of cannabis, and police departments have spent the past 80 years treating people who possess cannabis as if they’re street thugs preying on grandmothers. That’s a lot of institutional culture to combat. But it’s got to happen. Because in 2019, the police are now the ones preying on the grandmothers.

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A Vet Weighs In on CBD Oil for Dogs

This article is presented by Honest Paws, providing pet owners with all natural, lab-tested CBD oil, infused chews, and other treats for dogs and cats.


With a growing list of potential health benefits and no known side effects, CBD is gaining in popularity among US consumers and their pets. While the research is more robust for humans, promising results are starting to come in for the use of CBD in treating ailments of cats and dogs.

With CBD products for pets easily available online from companies like Honest Paws, more and more pet parents are finding they have questions about this cannabinoid.

A recent Cornell University study found that once the right dosage is determined for a pet, cannabidiol can improve pain stemming from arthritis. In addition, some consumers have had success in using CBD oil for dogs to help relieve a variety of ailments. It was that sort of success in fact, that led to the founding of Honest Paws.

The company was born when co-founder Chelsea Rivera saw its effects firsthand in her dog Baby Rose. Now 13 years old, Baby Rose is healthy and thriving, but that wasn’t always the case. From a young age, the malti-poo suffered from serious seizures. In her efforts to treat this condition, Chelsea decided to try CBD. A month later, Baby Rose’s seizures had stopped, and her health and quality of life was on the upswing. Having seen the impact that it had for her pup, Rivera and her co-founders started working to bring CBD to more pet owners.

In most states, veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe or recommend a cannabis product for your pet. But some vets have seen the benefits of CBD in animals up close and have opinions about its use. For example, Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian practicing out of Oakland, California, found that cannabis had extraordinary results for his own dog, Leo, who also suffered from seizures.

We asked Dr. Richter about what is understood about cannabis for pets and how to safely unleash the benefits of CBD for your furry friends.

dog posed next to Honest Paws CBD oil
(Courtesy of Honest Paws)

What conditions may CBD be beneficial for in dogs?

“While I cannot personally prescribe it, I have seen CBD and other forms of cannabis be a very effective alternative treatment option,” said Dr. Richter.

While current research on CBD for dogs is focused on arthritis, many pet owners–and vets–have found it to be effective for other off-label uses.

According to Dr. Richter, “it can help with everything from pain and soreness to stress and anxiety, upset stomach…and seizures.”

What’s the difference between CBD and cannabis?

“People don’t understand the difference between CBD and medical cannabis,” explained Dr. Richter. “CBD is a single component found within cannabis.”

Before it’s used in pet products, CBD is extracted from hemp cannabis. While raw cannabis flower can be toxic to dogs, “CBD from hemp is considered to be very, very safe,” according to Dr. Richter.

What should people look for in CBD products for their pets?

Getting products that have been transparently tested is key, says Dr. Richter. “Ask for a certificate of analysis to show the product contains what it claims on the label,” he advises. “Check the [certificate] to confirm there are no pesticides, fungicides, fungal toxins, etc.”

CBD oil and hemp cannabis flower
(Courtesy of Honest Paws)

Can CBD oil interfere or interact with other medications?

“[CBD] can absolutely be used in conjunction with traditional medicine or, in some circumstances, it can replace the need for Western medications,” said Dr. Richter.

It’s always best to discuss with your own vet to determine whether CBD is a good fit for your pet, though. If your vet is not well-versed in CBD, the Honest Paws team recommends that you seek counsel from a holistic vet who has experience recommending cannabis-derived products for pets.

What do we understand about CBD oil dosing in dogs, and what are we still learning?

There’s going to be a certain amount of trial and error in finding the right therapeutic dose for your pet, but a good starting point is going to depend on your pet’s size and age, and what you’re treating with CBD.

To get you started, you can plug some factors into a calculator like the one developed by Honest Paws. As when discussing prescription interactions, it’s worthwhile to find a veterinarian versed in CBD who can offer experienced insights on dosing issues.

How can I get my dog to take their CBD oil?

“The most effective way to administer cannabis to pets is orally, either with an oil or given as treats,” said Dr. Richter. While snacks like Honest Paws dog treats can be an easy starting point, Dr. Richter says oil is typically a more effective way to administer CBD.

“CBD is not particularly well absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract so ideally an oil is best, as some of it will be absorbed transmucosally–through the tissues in the mouth,” explained Dr. Richter. That’s why Honest Paws also offers an array of CBD oil for small, medium, and large dogs–as well as CBD oil for cats.

Are there any potential side effects of CBD oil that we know about?

The currently known side effects of CBD are mild. “As long as the product is of high quality, the worst side effect is likely to be a little drowsiness if the dosing is too high,” said Dr. Richter.

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New Washington Law Will Erase Old Cannabis Convictions

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Monday aimed at erasing old misdemeanor marijuana convictions, seven years after voters in the state approved an initiative that legalized the drug.

Under the new law, judges are required to grant requests to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession charges that occurred before the drug was legalized, provided the defendant was 21 at the time.

The measure goes further than an earlier marijuana pardon process announced by Inslee, which had stricter eligibility requirements.

“This is a matter of fairness and justice,” Inslee said. “We should not be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal in this state.”

The new law will take effect 90 days after the end of this year’s legislative session, which finished up on April 28.

When a conviction is vacated, it is generally removed from a person’s criminal record, and isn’t used as part of the sentencing considerations for any future crime. People with vacated convictions are also not required to mention them on employment or housing applications.

Advocates have called having to list a prior misdemeanor conviction a major barrier to housing and employment, and part of a system of barriers that can make it difficult for people with even minor crimes to escape a cycle of joblessness and housing issues.

After a conviction has been vacated, a person is allowed to state that they were never convicted of that crime, according to an analysis of the bill prepared by nonpartisan legislative staff.

Monday’s signing followed Inslee announcing in January a streamlined pardon process.

But while the pardons were accessible via a simple online form, they had stricter eligibility requirements: Applicants could only apply for the pardon of a single conviction, it had to be the only conviction on their record, and it applied only to state ordinances.

The bill also covers municipal ordinances, and doesn’t require an otherwise clean record.

Some disagreed with the change, however.

State Rep. Brad Klippert, a Kennewick Republican who is also a sheriff’s deputy in Benton County, voted against the bill in the state House, and said Monday that he still opposed it.

“At the time they committed the crime, it was a crime,” said Klippert, adding that consequences should be attached to the decision to break the law, even if the law later changed.

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