Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 22, 2022

Marijuana, hemp and what’s legal in Tennessee

And health benefits? It’s all anecdotal since none of it is FDA approved

It’s legal, it’s sold everywhere in Tennessee, but purveyors can’t tell anyone why it might help your insomnia, diabetes, anxiety or chronic pain. Federal law prohibits vendors from telling consumers why they’d actually want to buy it.

And that’s why CBD is such a mystery to so many. You also almost have to have a science degree to understand its various chemical compositions or why one variety might help with insomnia and another could make an introvert the hit of any cocktail party.

CBD is made from hemp, a kissing cousin to marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill removed it from the definition of marijuana and made it legal to cultivate for human and animal consumption as long as it doesn’t contain more than 0.3% of THC. Legal CBD will not give you the high associated with marijuana.

So, if you don’t want to get high, why would you bother with a CBD product? It’s widely believed that CBD can alleviate a variety of medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, cancer, pain, nausea, eating disorders and even the coronavirus.

But the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved CBD for any of those things. And that’s why those who sell CBD can’t legally talk about why their products will cure what ails you, or at least help.

Look on the website for LabCanna East, voted the most popular CDB dispensary in Nashville. You have to scroll all the way down to the end, but there it is – a disclaimer.

“No statement in this web site has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products sold by LabCanna are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Similar wording can be found on the websites of other CBD purveyors.

Ask Sophie Stevens, the director of operations for LabCanna about the health benefits of CBD, and she’ll tell you this: “Unfortunately, we are still waiting for the FDA to recognize the health benefits of CBD. However, our customers and millions of consumers nationwide have touted positive results from using cannabis products.”

But many people believe they have figured it out. About 64 million Americans have tried CBD in the last 24 months, a survey by SingleCare, and 22% of those who use it say it helped them supplement or replace over-the-counter medications.

At least two of those people have seen the health benefits of CBD in their own lives. Levi Gentry, the owner of Driven PCR in the West Tennessee town of Finley, says he became addicted to opioids after a painful shoulder injury. But after successfully completing a drug addiction program at Cumberland Heights in Nashville, he still suffered debilitating pain.

Searching for relief, he discovered CBD. “I felt bad, and my body was a wreck,” he says. “I ordered some gummies and ate the entire bottle in less than 24 hours.”

Now better educated and free of pain, he has his own company that manufactures and distributes CBD products.

Anthony Kim, who along with wife Ashlea owns Kindly Green in Brentwood, says he saw the benefits of CBD in managing seizures in children.

“We have friends who moved to Colorado to give their kids CBD for their seizures,” he says. “And during that time, my middle son was going through seizure-related stuff, and we couldn’t (use it). When the 2018 Farm Bill passed, it was a winner.”

And while the CBD link to some health benefits have been around for years, the coronavirus piece is new. Compounds of hemp identified by Oregon State University research by way of a chemical screening technique invented at OSU show the ability to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells, according to an article published by the university.

Not that you should run right out and get some CBD to prevent getting the virus. This is just one study.

8, 9 and 10

So, let’s talk about what CBD actually is and how it’s made. Get ready for some long words that are hard to pronounce.

It all starts with cannabis, a plant that makes oil full of compounds called cannabinoids. There are more than 100 types of cannabinoids that cause different reactions in the body. The most common cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both CBD and THC are found in hemp and marijuana plants.

Hemp has high levels of CBD, while Marijuana has high levels of THC.

To further complicate things, among all those hundreds of cannabinoids found in hemp are delta-8, delta-9 and delta 10.

Delta 8 and delta 10 are protected under state and federal law. For delta-10 to be legal in Tennessee, it must be derived from hemp plants carrying no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC. Anything above that limit is considered marijuana and is illegal. It cannot be ordered by mail, and those transporting it into Tennessee for any purpose are subject to criminal prosecution.

Delta-8 and delta-10 have varying effects depending on your body type. CBD with delta-8 is what many advocates use to alleviate insomnia. It is thought to help with relaxation and provide potential pain relief. CBD with delta-10 is associated with uplifting effects, productivity and alertness.

To make CBD, the flowers of the hemp are pressed and the oil extracted.

“There are many ways to process hemp,” Stevens says. “Most start with biomass (flower), which is then extracted into many final forms. LabCanna products are made using a closed loop Supercritical CO2 extraction process that creates phase changes in carbon dioxide utilizing very cold temperatures and high pressure.

“In liquid form, the CO2 acts as a solvent, removing the desired components from the plant. Next, a winterization process removes the fats and lipids and all residual solvents are removed. Finally, a complex distillation process is used to isolate individual compounds such as CBD.”

Organic and certified

Even if it’s hard to understand how CBD is made, one thing is important for consumers to know – where the hemp comes from.

“Make sure it’s organically grown,” Kim advises. “And from a reputable company. Every product should have a certificate of analysis. We did pay extra for a sticker saying its USDA organic. If someone says ‘we don’t know where that’s grown’ you don’t want to buy it.”

Kim says he doesn’t use products from hemp grown in Tennessee just yet, adding land that was formerly used to grow other crops that may have been dusted with pesticides isn’t fit to grow hemp for human consumption until all those impurities have been removed from the soil.

HempGrower, which supports legal hemp cultivators by providing information and advice in all aspects of the business, rates California and Oregon at the top of the list, with Colorado close behind.

Gentry says he buys his raw product from a certified laboratory that has been vetted by several trusted sources. “We formulate the weights and measures for our product. I send a sample of my product to a third-party lab so I have a certificate of analysis.”

He says all reputable CBD businesses should display a certificate of analysis.

“There are a lot of good CBD products on the market, but who knows about this gas station CBD and a lot of this novelty stuff. That’s part of doing your homework as a customer or consumer – to find that trusted source.”

Some purveyors warn against buying CBD in establishments in which employees can’t talk knowledgably about the products or don’t know their origins, such as gas stations or convenience and liquor stores.

“If they’re reputable and use organic flowers, great,” Kim explains. “It doesn’t matter where they sell it. But in that space their integrity has been questioned a lot. I personally won’t buy it at a gas station.”

Stevens of LabCanna recommends consumers look for retail locations or websites that provide up-to-date, detailed, third-party laboratory results on their products and have batch numbers clearly labeled on each product that connect them to the results.

“Also look for brands that provide learning information and include serving suggestions with each product,” she says. “Lastly, ask to speak with someone if you have questions. Well-educated employees are eager to answer your questions and help you select the right products for your lifestyle.

“How is this legal? How much do I take? We love these questions because it opens the door to a broad conversation that allows us to get to the base of their interest and needs.”