So, we’ve established that there is marijuana, and there’s industrial hemp, from which you make hemp oil. So which is the best source for CBD oil? You’re about to learn that and so much more.
There are hemp plants and then there are drug plants. Hemp is grown for fiber and seed oil. But with the ‘drug plants’ there are actually two kinds; those that have the euphoric compound THC, and those that have the non-euphoric CBD.
What separates a hemp plant from a drug plant? Resin compounds. Hemp plants are very low in resin, while drug plants are very high in resin. Marijuana is defined in terms of its resin content; plain and simple. Take note of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act:
“The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L. [sic], whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.”
Basically, what this means is that certain parts of the plant are not technically considered marijuana. Hemp fiber was fine, as was its oil, but the resin was the tricky part. But back to sourcing.
To understand how CBD is sourced, I will take you back to Kentucky in the 19th century. At the time, it was the hemp-growing Mecca of the United States, and the first state to begin its multifaceted pilot program to study the farming of hemp and hemp seed oil. It was also farming CBD rich plants for the use of its medicinal oil. This was all federally approved. Because of this, it’s still legal for Kentuckians to cultivate and harvest industrial hemp, and they can also formulate CBD-rich oil.
But one thing that they discovered in Kentucky early on was that industrial hemp plants are not effective when it comes to extracting CBD-rich oil. So instead, farmers tried to obtain the high-resin, CBD-rich plants, also known as ‘drug plants’. They visited clone repositories in Northern California, and then returned to Kentucky.
What they ended up having was high-resin cannabis strains, and one in particular called “ACDC”, which has a high proportion of CBD and only one percent THC. Today, ACDC is the typical high-resin, non-euphoric cannabis plant. Ever wondered where the band got their name from?
ACDC is a wonderful source of CBD oil, yet it still cannot legally qualify as industrial hemp because it just exceeds 0.3% THC per dry weight.
The plot thickens as we move to Colorado. There you’ll find ACDC cultivation, as well as other high-CBD/low THC plants. And even though their hemp industry seems to be booming, Colorado still is not compliant with Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014.
But Colorado found a way to get around all this. They decided instead to dive into large-scale commercial cultivation. This has resulted in a great industrial hemp boom, and ultimately, several Colorado start-ups that market CBD “hemp” oil.
In reality, many guys in Colorado are actually cultivating CBD drug plants and calling them hemp! They harvest their crops at peak resin content, and the THC level stays low at 0.3%.
One beneficial offshoot of the interest in CBD is a renewed interest in the hemp industry as a whole. There is revenue being generated from the CBD market, and this is improving the domestic infrastructure for processing hemp in general. As we discussed earlier, the potential for hemp to provide eco-friendly products is enormous, and that’s why this renewed interest is such good news. It bodes well for us both ecologically and economically, not to mention the inherent benefits in using CBD medicinally.
To clarify, when hemp is grown outdoors in good soil and carefully processed, industrial hemp can actually be a good source of CBD. But this is not the best source for CBD-rich oil, by a long shot. Industrial hemp will always contain less cannabidiol than its high-resin siblings. It also takes a massive amount of hemp foliage to extract even a small amount of CBD.
Lastly, it’s important to note that you can get heavily refined CBD paste online, and this comes from industrial hemp foliage. However, this is not sufficient as a starter for CBD oil products. There are also products infused with ‘pure’ hemp CBD powder, and these include a thinning agent which dilutes the oil so that it can be inhaled in a vape pen. These are highly unsafe when propylene glycol is present, as this can lead to formaldehyde.
A little note about Charlotte’s Web here; the CBD-rich strain that is proving to be life-saving for children with Dravet’s Syndrome. This is not yet approved by the FDA, sadly. This came from our friendly hemp growers in Colorado. Yes, medicinal cannabis is legal there. A test of Charlotte’s Web shows that it was 7.28% CBD and .24% THC. This means that it comes from a cross between high-resin cannabis and industrial hemp.
Just goes to show you how, when it comes to CBD sourcing, there are a lot of different interpretations out there. But truth be told, to get that CBD concentration, it needs to come from a high-resin plant.