Ask Leland: What's Up With CBD Oil?
I keep seeing these advertisements for legal CBD oil vaporizers that claim they are available in all 50 states. Since marijuana is still illegal in all but four states and the District of Columbia, is this oil really legal everywhere? –Desert Pete/Torrey, Utah
Well, Pete, the reason is that the CBD oil advertised is derived from the hemp plant. Both hemp and cannabis are the same genus, i.e. cannabis sativa. But each is grown for specific purposes.
Cannabis researchers have discovered more than 85 different cannabinoids in cannabis. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one, and THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is another. So if the cannabis is being developed as an industrial product and grown for low THC levels, it’s hemp. If it’s being grown for mind pleasure, it’s going to have a greater percentage of THC, and it’s called cannabis.
Though it had been a major crop here since the 18th century, all hemp production ended in the U.S. in 1937, and today most hemp is imported from China, Canada, and European countries. That could change as more states begin to allow hemp research and adjust laws to allow production. Twenty-four states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Virginia) have already changed the definition of hemp to distinguish it from other forms of cannabis, ending restrictions on its production.
So the oil in the ads is legal, but if you’re hoping to get a buzz from this kind of product, you won’t be successful. The typical limit for hemp is that it be no more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. The average THC level for cannabis sativa in Colorado is 18.7 percent.
Another thing to remember is that although CBD is considered to have the highest potential for medical applications, research on THC, the cannabinoid that gets people “high,” also suggests that isolating cannabinoids decreases their effectiveness. And according to the National Cancer Society, THC has been shown to be effective in attacking cancer cells without harming normal ones. So we have much to learn on this subject.