For years, the special needs community has embraced hemp products. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill this month – buying hemp products, even across state lines, has become legal. More special needs individuals will get the help that hemp products can offer but it may be the wild west as far as quality, potency and purity of the products are concerned because the industry is expected to grow extremely rapidly.
Hemp Has Been Legalized Nationally
American farmers will be able to plant and harvest hemp, a strain of the same plant species from which marijuana originates, because of the passage of the Farm Bill.
Hemp is a plant that’s almost identical to marijuana and is a key source of the highly touted wellness ingredient CBD.
What Is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
Both hemp and marijuana are categorized in the cannabis family of plants. Botanically, the genus cannabis is composed of several variants. Cannabis is the only plant genus that contains the unique class of molecular compounds called cannabinoids.
Many cannabinoids have been identified, but two preponderate: THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, and CBD, which is an anti-psychoactive ingredient. One type of cannabis is high in the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and low in the anti-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD. This type is popularly known as marijuana. Another type is high in CBD and low in THC. Variants of this type are called hemp.
Size of the Hemp Industry
According to a new estimate from cannabis industry analysts the Brightfield Group, the hemp-CBD market alone could hit $22 billion by 2022.
According to the report from this prestigious think tank
“CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, has had a surge in popularity over the past couple of years. Unlike THC, the chemical compound that gives weed its signature effect, CBD has been shown to help with everything from PTSD and anxiety to MS and epilepsy — without getting you high”.
A Serious Problem with Hemp – 70% Mislabeled Product
A new study by a Penn Medicine researcher, published this week in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that nearly 70 percent of all cannabidiol products sold online are either over or under labeled, causing potential serious harm to its consumers.
The purpose for this study was explained in the introduction to the study by the authors:
“There is growing consumer demand for cannabidiol (CBD), a constituent of the cannabis plant, due to its purported medicinal benefits for myriad health conditions. Viscous plant-derived extracts, suspended in oil, alcohol (tincture), or vaporization liquid, represent most of the retail market for CBD. Discrepancies between federal and state cannabis laws have resulted in inadequate regulation and oversight, leading to inaccurate labeling of some products. To maximize sampling and ensure representativeness of available products, we examined the label accuracy of CBD products sold online, including identification of present but unlabeled cannabinoids”.
Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, an adjunct assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and the lead author on the study, believes the mislabeling of cannabidiol products is a direct result of inadequate regulation and oversight.
“The big problem, with this being something that is not federally legal, is that the needed quality assurance oversight from the Food and Drug Administration is not available. There are currently no standards for producing, testing, or labeling these oils,” Bonn-Miller said. “So, right now, if you buy a Hershey bar, you know it has been checked over; you know how many calories are in it, you know it has chocolate as an ingredient, you know how much chocolate is in there. Selling these oils without oversight, there is no way to know what is actually in the bottle. It’s crazy to have less oversight and information about a product being widely used for medicinal purposes, especially in very ill children, than a Hershey bar.”
For a month, Bonn-Miller and his team of researchers conducted internet searches to identify and purchase CBD products available for online retail purchase that included CBD content on the packaging. The team purchased and analyzed 84 products from 31 different companies and found that more than 42 percent of products were under-labeled, meaning that the product contained a higher concentration of CBD than indicated. Another 26 percent of products purchased were over-labeled, meaning the product contained a lower concentration of CBD than indicated.
Only 30% of CBD products purchased contained an actual CBD content that was within 10% of the amount listed on the product label. While studies have not shown that too much CBD can be harmful, products containing either too little or too much CBD than labeled could negate potential clinical benefit to patients. Further, the variability across products may make it troublesome for patients to get a reliable effect.
“People are using this as medicine for many conditions (anxiety, inflammation, pain, epilepsy),” Bonn-Miller explained. “The biggest implication is that many of these patients may not be getting the proper dosage; they’re either not getting enough for it to be effective or they’re getting too much.”
According to Bonn-Miller, a number of products also contained a significant amount of THC — the chemical compound in cannabis responsible for making a person feel “high” — which has been shown cause cognitive impairment and other adverse health effects. “This is a medication that is often used for children with epilepsy, so parents could be giving their child THC without even knowing it,” he said.
Kirkman® To Introduce New Line of Hemp Products
Because of the need for quality hemp products and the widespread use of hemp products among our customers, Kirkman® will be introducing a line of hemp products in the coming months.
We can assure our customers that our new hemp products will be made with the same attention to quality, efficacy, safety and purity that they have come to expect from Kirkman®.
 Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, Mallory J. E. Loflin, Brian F. Thomas, Jahan P. Marcu, Travis Hyke, Ryan Vandrey. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA, 2017; 318 (17): 1708 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.11909
1. Whiting PF, Wolff RF, Deshpande S, et al. Cannabinoids for medical use: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2015;313(24):2456-2473.Article
2. Vandrey R, Raber JC, Raber ME, Douglass B, Miller C, Bonn-Miller MO. Cannabinoid dose and label accuracy in edible medical cannabis products. JAMA. 2015;313(24):2491-2493.Article
3. US Food and Drug Administration. 2016 Warning letters and test results for cannabidiol-related products. https://www.fda.gov/
4. Babalonis S, Haney M, Malcolm RJ, et al. Oral cannabidiol does not produce a signal for abuse liability in frequent marijuana smokers. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017;172:9-13.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
5. Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Curr Drug Saf. 2011;6(4):237-249.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
6. Crippa JA, Crippa AC, Hallak JE, Martín-Santos R, Zuardi AW. Δ9-THC intoxication by cannabidiol-enriched cannabis extract in two children with refractory epilepsy. Front Pharmacol. 2016;7:359.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref