Welcome to the final instalment in our three-part series on hemp CBD, where we’re exploring all the ways this natural ingredient has changed Americans’ lives—and discovering who is championing it.
It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed these days, what with the pandemic, the climate crisis, and all the economic turmoil.
But where there is crisis, as the saying goes, there’s opportunity. Imagine on the other side of these challenges is an ecotopia of plant-based fuels, bioplastics, regenerative agriculture, new natural supplements, and sustainable industries. We can all get behind that, and we can all make it happen.
Patrick Rea sure is trying. He left the nutrition business and got into the hemp trade specifically to help others succeed. He’s co-founder and CEO of CanopyBoulder, a business accelerator that links investors with early-stage entrepreneurs in the CBD and larger cannabinoid world. His team sifts through as many as 600 applications for every 10 they accept with financial investments.
“Where I see opportunities,” says Rea, “is bringing expertise from the natural products industry to the hemp and CBD industry. We’re talking about an enormously efficacious herbal product here. Hemp and CBD offer preferable alternatives to mainstream pharma and OTC products.”
As a health supplement, typically as part of a full-spectrum hemp extract, CBD is being investigated for everything from pain to sleep to anxiety and stress. The science is less than ironclad at this point, but research continues, and there’s no denying that users are going back to stores for more.
CBD … and so much more
While CBD often takes the spotlight thanks to its promising health benefits, the versatile hemp plant (a cannabis plant that contains no more than 0.3 percent THC) can produce a wealth of other products.
“There has been so much excitement around CBD,” says Annie Rouse, owner of ThinkHempyThoughts.com. “But there is much more that the hemp plant can offer—in the areas of grain for food, feed, and industrial oils; fiber for biomaterials; and cannabinoids for wellness, of which CBD is just one of more than a hundred.”
Figuring out how to use the entire plant for the grand trifecta of grain, fiber, and flower is the work of seed geneticists, farmers, and the promoters and influencers who generate buzz and make new markets.
“Hemp has the potential to replace many products that utilize petroleum or corn or soy or cotton or timber, whether that’s CBD [from the flowers] or protein powder from the seeds or ingredients from the stalks for paints or building materials,” says Morris Beegle, hemp promotor and president of We Are For Better Alternatives (WAFBA). “If you look across the spectrum at what all those commodities produce, hemp can theoretically compete, with a more environmentally friendly ingredient than those other options.”
What’s more, hemp can help save small towns by inspiring people to start hemp farms.
“This plant is one of the things that is going to make a difference,” says Michael Bowman, hemp farmer and board chair of the U.S. Hemp Growers Association. “These little towns get five or six families back, [and] it really does make a difference. It’s a way to bring them back and make them excited.”
There’s a lot to be excited about. Hemp can absorb four times as much carbon dioxide as a mature forest, according to Bowman. Hemp roots, he says, store carbon in the soil. Buy a hemp shirt and store carbon in your closet. Build a house with hempcrete, an insulation material made primarily from lime and hemp, and store carbon in your house.
It’s a tall order, of course. Entrenched interests have a way of sticking around. Governments can key that change. In Europe, an EU mandate on sustainability has incentivized car makers to use hemp instead of petroleum-based plastic for interior door panels and dashboards.
“If you and I get on the phone in 10 years and hemp fiber is not a huge part of the materials world,” says Josh Hendrix, board member of the U.S. Hemp Authority, “I’ll be shocked.”
For that to happen in America, an entire processing infrastructure needs to be assembled from scratch. Today, the hemp CBD oil extraction infrastructure is doing fine, thanks to its head start in the larger supplements industry. But large and widespread facilities to convert hemp into paper, composites, textiles, building materials, and even kitty litter have yet to materialize.
The seeds of that infrastructure are being sown, though. In Colorado, a visionary facility is processing hemp into home insulation, rugs, paper packaging, and more. Elsewhere in the state, the Hemp Plastic Company is producing earth-friendly polymers, also known as bioplastics, that are carbon-friendly and can be compostable.
It’s businesses like these that just might help save the economy.
Hemp and economic recovery
There’s no telling how long the COVID-induced economic malaise will continue. The pandemic is accelerating certain changes, and we’d be wise to make the ascension of hemp products one of those changes.
Indeed, better-established hemp markets—like healthy foods—are still expanding. “Companies are buying hempseed for gluten-free tortilla chips with six grams of protein per serving,” says Hemp Industries Association president Rick Trojan. Hemp-filled foods are available at the same store where you picked up this magazine—making you, dear reader, a leader in the hemp revolution.
As a nation, we’re at a crossroads. We have an opportunity to see the broken systems of the past shift towards a more balanced future for everyone involved. Hemp can be a vehicle for this change.
“Hemp can fulfill its grand economic, environmental, and societal impact on the world,” says Rea. “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Business is a great agent of social change, and hemp will be a great business.”
Did you miss part I or II of this special series on hemp CBD? You can find the entire series on deliciousliving.com!
4 ways to a better CBD experience
Here’s how to get more bang for your buck—and potentially better results—when using hemp CBD.
- Start low and go slow. CBD researcher Alex Capano, PhD, says starting with a low dose helps you develop a sense of how your body is reacting. “Lower is better, safer for your liver, and [carries] less risk of side effects and drug interactions,” she says.
- Take hemp CBD with food—especially fatty foods (a spoonful of peanut butter counts)—for better absorption.
- Remember that it’s not how much you take, but how much you absorb. Look for products that use techniques and technologies to boost absorption, also called bioavailability.
- Look for a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum hemp extract. All the other cannabinoids and terpenes in these products may build an “entourage effect”—more benefits with a lower dose!
What’s the ‘H’ about?
The U.S. Hemp Authority—with its off-kilter “H” seal you see on some hemp CBD products—is a certification agency that audits farmers, processors, and finished-product brands to vouchsafe quality is maintained via truth in labeling and transparency.
“It gives consumers a way to gain confidence,” says Marielle Weintraub, president of the U.S. Hemp Authority, “and increase trust in the products they are purchasing.”
The daily dose debate
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated it is looking at the safety and impacts of “cumulative exposure” to CBD products, given that people often use several types of CBD products, sometimes in rapid succession (think CBD-infused beverages, skincare products, and supplements).
In the UK, the government has advised consumers that 70 mg is the maximum daily quantity of CBD for healthy adults.
“The recommendation out of the UK of 70 mg per day is conservative,” says Alex Capano, PhD, a researcher at the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “But I also think it’s reasonable. They’re really erring on the side of caution. In reality, with a full- or broad-spectrum product, most people do not need to exceed 70 mg a day.”
For more, check out our CBD spa day, home edition.