Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Author: Kit O'Connell

Hemp Is Rebuilding Agriculture In America’s Conservative Tobacco Country

Creation of jobs, diverse applications, and strong sustainability implications are creating bipartisan support for legalization of hemp Hemp is reviving agriculture where tobacco was once traditionally grown. Tobacco is still…

Creation of jobs, diverse applications, and strong sustainability implications are creating bipartisan support for legalization of hemp

Hemp is reviving agriculture where tobacco was once traditionally grown.

Tobacco is still a multi-million dollar industry, but its fortunes have fallen greatly due to changes in laws and growing social stigma around smoking and its effects on human health.

At the same time, the excellent climate in many tobacco-growing states make industrial hemp, the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana, a near-perfect replacement.

The success of this hemp revival in conservative tobacco country has made total legalization of hemp into an issue with bipartisan support. An increasing number of legislators from both parties want to see this cash crop return nationwide.

Hemp Growing Returns To United States As Tobacco Industry Falls

According to a fact sheet released by the Centers for Disease Control, while there were almost 180,000 tobacco farms in the United States in the 1980s, by 2012 only about 10,000 remained. Despite these losses, the U.S. remains the fourth largest grower of tobacco in the world, producing nearly 800 million pounds in 2012.

While tobacco is far from dead, thousands of farmers have been forced to choose another crop or find other sources of income. For some of them, that new crop is industrial hemp.

hemp crop field
Although hemp became illegal alongside psychoactive cannabis (with the exception of a brief period during World War II), the 2014 Farm Bill made hemp growing legal again on a trial basis, provided states developed their own individual programs and regulations. Provisions in the 2015 and 2016 Appropriations Acts also forbade the government from targeting these legal hemp programs for federal prosecution.

While these programs started small, today thousands of acres of hemp are grown legally in the U.S., and hemp continues to return to states from Nevada to Pennsylvania.

Hemp growing has been a particular success in Kentucky, which still represents one of the top tobacco states. Despite the support of state officials, the transition to growing hemp hasn’t always been easy. DEA agents held up seeds belonging to Brian Furnish, one of the first licensed tobacco growers in the state, over a permitting issue, according to PBS News Hour.

Even with those initial hurdles cleared, Furnish told PBS he still faces intense red tape and federal scrutiny:

“Everything we do has to be reported. We have to go through a criminal background check. All of our fields have to be GPS when they’re planted. Samples will be taken of every field to test for the THC levels.”

Legal Hemp Is Good For Tobacco Country And Good For Planet Earth

In October 2013, Modern Farmer took a skeptical look at hemp growing in the U.S. While criticizing hemp for being labor and water intensive, they had to admit that hemp has unique benefits:

The one big benefit of hemp? Its environmental footprint is relatively small. It requires few pesticides and no herbicides. It’s an excellent rotation crop, often used to suppress weeds and loosen soil before the planting of winter cereals.

States like Kentucky were already regulating pesticide use in tobacco, because certain pesticides can have a harmful effect when inhaled, and similar regulations help insure that these same harmful chemicals are kept out of hemp and hemp extracts. In addition, weather conditions are ideal thanks to a warm summer that supports beneficial insects like ladybugs, followed by a cool winter that’s great for drying hemp.

And though hemp may be water intensive by some standards, it actually uses far less water than cotton, making it a more ecological alternative for textiles. “The cotton plant needs about 50 percent more water per season than hemp, which can grow with little irrigation,” noted Brian Palmer in a 2011 investigation for Slate.

Hemp can also act as a sustainable replacement for fossil fuels, and other less renewable resources like trees.

Legal, Technological And Financial Barriers Slow Hemp’s Growth

While hemp seems poised for massive growth in the United States, there are still numerous barriers to a widespread revival. Some states still lack any form of legal hemp, while the threat of federal prosecution looms.

CBD oil, one of the most common products made from industrial hemp, is a popular supplement that is known to benefit a wide range of conditions, ranging from relieving insomnia, easing epilepsy, and even alleviating chronic pain. Yet a cloud hangs over the industry, thanks to recent threats against CBD by the DEA. While most legal experts think that these DEA threats are absurd, and consumers can still buy hemp-based CBD extracts, the potential for a lengthy legal battle is slowing investment and growth.

According to an October report from MintPress News, many traditional sources of investment view hemp as a “high risk industry.”

“You’ve got essentially a Catch-22, where we need to deploy some serious capital to get the supply chain running, but private equity or bigger sources of capital aren’t going to get in until there’s a more clear definition of federal legislation,” John Ryan, founder and director of Ananda Hemp, told MintPress.

Even educational hemp resources have suffered from the stigma associated with cannabis, as Ministry of Hemp experienced firsthand. At the time, the site told MintPress that they struggled to place online advertising and their business was banned by most payment processors.

“They weren’t willing to listen. They were not willing to budge in the fact that they’re almost two different plants and have completely different purposes. It’s quite frustrating for us hemp entrepreneurs.”

Hemp Legalization Sees Support Among Both Republicans And Democrats

“While it may be a while before you can legally procure pot in your local bodega, the political push for the legal production of hemp is on, at both a state and federal level,” wrote James Joiner at the Daily Beast in 2015. “And, proving yet again what a miraculous material it is, hemp is the one thing that seems able to garner bipartisan support.”

For legislators regardless of party affiliation, hemp seems like a winner. Its economic benefits have been proven in conservative states, while it lacks the potential for abuse (however small) posed by psychoactive cannabis. Even the stigma over cannabis is fading, leaving banks and investors less afraid of hemp as well. Recent studies show that 57 percent of Americans support cannabis legalization, including 40 percent of Republicans.

Over half of the representatives in the Texas House recently signed onto a bill that would have dramatically expanded the state’s CBD oil program. After hearing emotional testimony from families and patients, “the number of sponsors jumped from six to 76 in the two days after the hearing, including 29 Republicans,” reported Sophie Novack at the Texas Observer. Reporters struggled to find Republicans willing to openly criticize the measure. Although it eventually died in the Senate, the bill’s remarkable success is a sign that hemp and cannabis’ image is improving in even the heart of conservative America.

The same seems true at the national level. Democratic New York Sen. Karen Gillibrand recently tweeted her support for CBD oil, also citing support for cannabis research from Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

NY Senator supports hemp CBD oil legalization
While U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to go after states that have legalized cannabis, some experts think it can only accelerate the process of total legalization. In the $1 trillion spending bill that passed in Congress with bipartisan support in May, Senators and Representatives refused to allocate money for a federal crackdown on cannabis.

Hemp Could Revive American Agriculture And Boost The Economy

Hemp New Billion Dollar Crop

An article featuring hemp in Popular Mechanics Magazine in Feb 1938

A 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics that we recently profiled on Ministry of Hemp predicted that hemp could someday be a “billion dollar crop.” As outlined by John Levy, supporting hemp would create jobs, create massive profits for growers and manufacturers, and even offer environmental benefits by healing the soil so it can be used for other crops.

“With the rapid deregulation of cannabis, both industrial hemp and psychoactive cannabis (marijuana), there is every reason to grow hemp once again,” Levy wrote. “The promises made to farmers back in 1938 may finally become a reality.”

A supply of domestically grown, affordable hemp would not only help American agriculture, but also boost the economy through the manufacture of countless hemp-based products. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of both Republicans and Democrats, as the legal landscape improves we can expect investors, and scientific research to strip away the remaining barriers to hemp’s success.

 

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Why did the ‘Hemp For Victory’ film disappear? How the US hid all evidence of the film after WWII

During World War II, hemp was so desperately needed by the Allies that the United States briefly reversed its stance on hemp and encouraged farmers to grow it. Afterwards, they…

During World War II, hemp was so desperately needed by the Allies that the United States briefly reversed its stance on hemp and encouraged farmers to grow it. Afterwards, they tried to erase all records of the campaign.

Millions of people are rediscovering the benefits of hemp, both as a health remedy in CBD oil and a raw ingredient in dozens of hemp-based products. Far fewer are aware of hemp’s history in the U.S. as a cash crop, or the lengths that the government went to suppress that history.

One of the most remarkable examples is “Hemp For Victory,” an educational film produced by the USDA in 1942 that encouraged farmers to grow hemp. After the war, when growing hemp again became illegal again, the government hid the existence of the film for years until pro-cannabis activists forced them to bring it back into the light.

hemp for victory film
The story of “Hemp For Victory,” and indeed the facts laid out in the film itself, make it clear that hemp was once an essential part of American (and indeed, virtually all human) life, and could be once again if laws continue to change.

Before Drug Prohibition, Hemp Was A Vital American Crop

Before cannabis and hemp were made illegal in the aftermath of alcohol prohibition, they were everyday parts of many people’s lives. Hemp was used to make products like cloth, rope, and sails from the moment the American colonies began, Early drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper, though the final version still preserved today is written on parchment.

While smokable cannabis likely reached the United States in the early days of the 20th century (the common slang term “marijuana” reflects its likely origins as an import via Mexico), cannabis tinctures were widely used in medicine for at least a century beforehand, even available in many drug stores. For a brief moment, Turkish smoking parlors were all the rage in American high society.

Of course, all that changed with the beginning of the war on drugs. As alcohol prohibition ended, much of the same law enforcement apparatus that had targeted speakeasies and booze smuggling turned against cannabis in the 1930s. Even humble hemp was demonized for the cause of drug prohibition — until, that is, the U.S. military faced a wartime shortage decades later during World War II.

War Shortages Force Us Government To Declare ‘hemp For Victory’

Long ago when these ancient Grecian temples were new, hemp was already old in the service of mankind. For thousands of years, even then, this plant had been grown for cordage and cloth in China and elsewhere in the East. For centuries prior to about 1850 all the ships that sailed the western seas were rigged with hempen rope and sails.

For the sailor, no less than the hangman, hemp was indispensable. …

— From “Hemp For Victory”

“Hemp For Victory” is a fascinating film, not only because of its origins and the attempted cover-up, but for its contents as well. In 13 and a half minutes, the USDA offers a concise history and truth of hemp that’s been largely censored from textbooks. Hemp was a central part of human culture and even today hundreds of thousands of acres are legally grown worldwide.

It’s also remarkable that a government agency would flip flop on a core drug policy, going from banning to encouraging hemp, just about a decade after the war on drugs began.

As the film explains, “the culture of hemp in America declined,” though the cause had as much to do with drug prohibition as with the “cheaper imported fibers” the USDA blamed. In any case, under wartime conditions, imported hemp became dangerously scarce.

“Philippine and East Indian sources of hemp [are] in the hands of the Japanese, and shipment of jute from India curtailed,” explains “Hemp For Victory.”

Efforts to encourage hemp growing were already underway:

In 1942, patriotic farmers at the government’s request planted 36,000 acres of seed hemp, an increase of several thousand percent. The goal for 1943 is 50,000 acres of seed hemp.

After the war came to a close, imported hemp became available again, and “Hemp For Victory” was buried in the government vaults.

The Government Tried to Hide The Film – Activists Force Them To Admit “Hemp For Victory” Exists

Today, you can find “Hemp For Victory” in the U.S. National Archives, under record number “1682.” But sometime after the film’s release and the end of the war, it’s existence had been scrubbed from government records, including the archives. The USDA had even asked college libraries to remove the film from their holdings.

After decades in obscurity, in 1989 a number of cannabis activists, including the famous hemp expert Jack Herer, discovered or were given copies of “Hemp For Victory” on VHS. Despite the film’s obvious government origins, inquiries to government agencies, from the USDA to the Library of Congress, came up empty handed. Here’s a typical response from one government official, as quoted in “The Great Book Of Hemp“:

We contacted the Washington, DC office of the Department of Agriculture and also the Federal Audio Center and have been unable to locate any film with the title “Hemp for Victory” that was produced by any department of the federal government.

Herer attempted to find the film at the National Archives to no avail, but in May 1990, a hemp researcher named John Birrenbach received a different answer from another archivist, who successfully discovered both reels of the original film. For a fee, Birrenbach received an official government videocassette copy of the film, finally definitively proving that it was a real USDA film. The cover of the original VHS box can be seen on Birrenbach’s website, The Institute For Cannabis.

Can Legalization Bring A New Victory For Hemp?

new hemp for victory
Unearthing “Hemp For Victory,” and the other strides made by pro-cannabis activists like Herer and Birrenbach, have helped modern Americans rediscover hemp’s great potential.

Today, most hemp is still imported from overseas. This can sometimes cause issues with quality and purity of CBD extracts and other hemp products. At the same time, high quality organic sources are available, and hemp is once again being grown in the U.S. thanks to progress toward legalization.

Despite continued threats from the U.S. government, over half the U.S. plus the District of Columbia have passed laws loosening restrictions on cannabis, and pilot hemp growing programs continue under regulations outlined in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Domestic hemp farmers once contributed to victory for the U.S. and its allies in World War II. Someday soon, hemp’s tremendous potential could once again represent victory for all the earth’s people.

 

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Hemp Makes Great Plastic, So Why Isn’t Hemp Plastic Everywhere?

Plastic is an inescapable part of our everyday lives, so why is almost all of it still made from polluting, non-renewable petrochemicals? You may have heard that agricultural hemp, the…

Plastic is an inescapable part of our everyday lives, so why is almost all of it still made from polluting, non-renewable petrochemicals?

You may have heard that agricultural hemp, the non-mind-altering cousin of cannabis (commonly known as marijuana), has dozens of potential uses from clothing to paper.

Since virtually all climate scientists agree that we must replace our dependence on fossil fuels, and given that hemp can even make the soil cleaner, it’s surprising that this miracle crop isn’t in wider use.

When we looked into the topic, we found that hemp is already appearing in some commonplace objects, including cars, and could soon find its way into more. But there are also remaining barriers that keep hemp plastics more expensive and less versatile, for now.

Alternatives Needed As Plastic Pollutes Water & Land

plastic pollution

Researchers found 38 million pieces of plastic waste on one uninhabited island in the South Pacific. That’s just one island.

Not only are the harmful effects of global warming increasingly clear, conventional plastics linger in the environment and can even enter the food chain to detrimental effect on human and animal health.

In one especially shocking recent example, researchers from the University of Tasmania and the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found 38 million pieces of plastic waste on Henderson Island, an uninhabited coral island in the South Pacific.

“I’ve travelled to some of the most far-flung islands in the world and regardless of where I’ve gone, in what year, and in what area of the ocean, the story is generally the same: the beaches are littered with evidence of human activity,” Jennifer Lavers, a marine scientist from the University of Tasmania, told The Guardian.

The oceans are in a similar or even worse state, thanks to the risk of microplastics, or tiny fragments of plastic that pollute the waters and are often eaten by marine life. The infamous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is actually largely composed of millions of these tiny particles — as much as 1.9 million per square mile — according to a 2014 report from National Geographic.

Hemp Cellulose Fibers A Good Source For Many Plastics

Some of the earliest plastics were made from cellulose fibers obtained from organic, non-petroleum-based sources.

“Hemp cellulose can be extracted and used to make cellophane, rayon, celluloid and a range of related plastics,” reported Seshata, a writer at Sensi Seeds in 2014. “Hemp is known to contain around 65-70% cellulose, and is considered a good source (wood contains around 40%, flax 65-75%, and cotton up to 90%) that has particular promise due to its relative sustainability and low environmental impact.”

While 100% hemp-based plastic is still a rarity, some “composite bioplastics” — plastics made from a combination of hemp and other plant sources — are already in use. Thanks to their high strength and rigidity, these plastics are currently used in the construction of cars, boats, and even musical instruments.

could hemp be used for plastic bottles

Bioplastic Is Promising, But Can’t Solve All Our Pollution Problems

Many plastic products are made from polymer resins, including polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, found in everyday products like plastic bottles. While advocates hope to someday see 100% hemp-based plastic bottles on supermarket shelves, the technology just isn’t ready for prime time.

Companies like Coca-Cola have experimented with 100% plant-based bottles, but commercially available products are made from no more than 30% plant-based materials, while the remainder is made from traditional fossil fuel sources.

The good news is that many corporations are investing heavily in researching replacements to traditional PET. It’s likely the first company to produce a viable commercial product could stand to earn millions.

Unfortunately, even plastic that’s deliberately designed to be biodegradable can still be a source of pollution. Almost nothing biodegrades in a landfill, and hemp microplastics could still cause problems when introduced to the oceans. Biodegradable plastics need to be sent to commercial composting facilities for efficient disposal, and these facilities aren’t available to everyone. In addition to creating better alternatives to plastic, we’ll still to create more responsible attitudes toward disposable products.

Cost And The War On Drugs Are Biggest Barrier To Hemp Plastic

While fossil fuel costs are kept low with subsidies, hemp products for the most part remain costly luxury items. While some hemp is grown in the United States under pilot programs legalized by the 2014 Farm Bill, most is still imported from other countries.

Though hemp requires fewer pesticides and has a smaller environmental footprint than many other crops, growing and harvesting it remains labor intensive. Another drawback is that hemp requires “significant fertiliser in some soils, and also has relatively high water requirements,” as noted by Seshata.

However, hemp prices would almost undoubtedly come down, and technology improve, if we ended the war on drugs — particularly the many restrictions on legally growing hemp and cannabis.

could hemp plastic be used for legos
One of the most provocative examples of hemp’s potential plastic future could come from LEGOs, the ubiquitous building block toy. which is promising to phase out fossil-fuel based resin by 2030.

“Hemp might just be the cost effective, environmentally sustainable alternative material that LEGO is looking for,” speculated Emily Gray Brosious in a February 2016 investigation from the Sun Times.

Whether or not we’re ever able to build a spaceship from hemp bricks, the full promise of hemp plastic remains tantalizingly close, but just out of reach.

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How Hemp Can Heal Our Soil & Why It Matters To Consumers

Add this to the many uses for our favorite plant: Industrial hemp can actually remove toxins from the soil. Not only can you use hemp to make dozens of sustainable…

hemp soil remediation

Add this to the many uses for our favorite plant: Industrial hemp can actually remove toxins from the soil.

Not only can you use hemp to make dozens of sustainable products, from clothing, skateboards to medicine, but it can also help heal the earth.

As the human population grows, so do our need for more land to grow the crops that keep us fed. But our dependence on fossil fuels and dirty industrial processes have left a lot of land too toxic to sustain life. That’s where the rapidly growing field of “bioremediation” can be vital. Bioremediation essentially means using living things to heal the soil, allowing us to clean and reclaim some of these polluted lands. While bacteria and other microorganisms can be used, phytoremediation, from the Greek word for plant, relies on crops like hemp.

Below, we’ll take a look at the reasons why hemp is such a promising plant for bioremediation. At the same time, we’ll also touch on the risks posed by heavy metals and toxins, which can inadvertently end up in hemp-based consumer products.

Hemp Soil Remediation VS The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

One of the most dramatic demonstrations of industrial hemp‘s potential was in Chernobyl, in the aftermath of the historic 1986 nuclear disaster which spewed radioactive waste across Eastern Europe. Over 100,000 square kilometers of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus were inundated with radiation, rendering much of them unusable.

In the late 90s, a company called Phytotech began experimenting with industrial hemp in some polluted Ukrainian regions. The results were extremely promising.

“Phytoremediation can be used to remove radioactive elements from soil and water at former weapons producing facilities,” explained Elaine Charkowski for Central Oregon Green Pages in winter of 1998. “It can also be used to clean up metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and toxins leaching from landfills.”

“Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find,” Slavik Dushenkov, a research scientist with Phytotech, told Charkowski.

Harvested Hemp Could Be Used As Biofuel

While hemp that’s been planted near Chernobyl obviously can’t be made into food or medicine, it can still be safely distilled into ethanol for use as a biofuel.

Belarus also conducted successful experiments in growing hemp on contaminated soil for later use as fuel. “By using hemp to create biofuels (namely ethanol), scientists believe they can take advantage of the large amounts of contaminants hemp removes from soil as a byproduct of growing, trapping them in the plants, which are then removed entirely once the crop cycle completes,” reported CannaZine Hemp News in July 2009.

“The Government of Belarus has declared ethanol a priority topic for energy development. So we are very happy today to see the first steps being taken, in what we are sure will be a successful and large-scale development of ethanol production,” declared Sergei Martynov, former foreign minister of Belarus.

Beyond Radiation: From Cadmium to Oil Spills

In a paper published in September 2012 in Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, a team of five researchers in China reported on their successful experiments with hemp to absorb cadmium from the soil. Left untreated, cadmium in soil can enter the food chain, and consumption can cause severe joint and spinal pain. Too much exposure is known to even affect the kidneys and link to cancer.

The scientists experimented with 18 different varieties of hemp that are native to China. They identified 7 varieties which exhibited the highest concentrations of Cadmium (Cd) when grown in polluted soil.

“These cultivars, therefore, are good candidates for the implementation of the new strategy of cultivating biodiesel crops for phytoremediation of Cd-contaminated soils,” they wrote.

 

hemp cleans up oil spill

Phytoremediation could also provide an alternative to harmful chemicals like Corexit, which are currently used to clean up oil spills. In 1999, the U.S. Navy experimented with using kenaf, a member of the hibiscus family which produces a fiber that’s similar to jute. The Navy found that kenaf could successfully absorb oil spills, thanks to its absorbent, fibrous core.

“A uniquely similar core fiber is also found in hemp,” wrote “Johnny Green,” a hemp activist, in a September 2016 report from Green Flower, a site dedicated to cannabis and hemp education.

Unfortunately, the use of hemp for bioremediation is limited by the war on drugs in the U.S., which drives up the price of hemp and limits who can grow hemp or conduct research.

“It is more expensive to produce the hemp than the chemical agents,” Green wrote. “Essentially, it would take a tremendous amount of core fibers from hemp to be able to clean up some of these larger oil spills.”

Toxins Absorbed By Hemp Can Also End Up In Consumer Products

Hemp’s potential for environmental cleanup also poses a risk to consumers when everyday agricultural hemp is grown under less than exacting conditions.

Even though some CBD extracts and other hemp products are now produced in the United States, thanks in large part to the 2014 Farm Bill, the vast majority are still imported from overseas.

As we reported in our post, Be Careful When You Buy Your Next CBD Oil last year,

The main problem for end consumers is the lack of transparency when it comes to the CBD’s origin. There are basically no data behind the volume and quality control behind these CBD oil imports.

The main reason why hemp’s cultivation environment is so important is because of hemp’s properties of absorbing contaminants from the soil while it grows. So if the soil it was grown on is not good, clean soil, then that plant might contain high levels of lead or mercury.

The risks aren’t limited just to hemp products either. An investigation by NBC Los Angeles in February 2017 found potentially dangerous levels of pesticides in multiple products sold in medical cannabis dispensaries, forcing state officials to pull the products from the shelves. A 2015 investigation by Smithsonian found legal cannabis was often laced with fungus or heavy metals. While most states are implementing more stringent safety precautions as a result of these risks, it’s another sign that source and quality matter when it comes to both cannabis and hemp.

Hemp Provides Hope For Reclaiming The Earth From Pollution

hemp can heal the soil

For centuries, Taranto, in the Puglia region of Italy, was known for its fine traditional cheese, drawing tourists from around the world. But by 2008, a nearby steel mill had rendered the cheese unfit for human consumption, forcing the government to cull farmers’ animals.

Once a thriving agricultural center, the Ilva steel plant, the largest in Europe, turned “Taranto into a grimy industrial city,” reported Sara Manisera in July 2016 for Slate. All the local livestock were “contaminated with a dangerous cocktail of nickel, lead” from eating grass grown in toxic soil. Residents suffer from a high frequency of cancer and kidney diseases.

Now farmers are turning to hemp to reclaim their soil. In just five years, Taranto’s experiment with hemp grew to almost 100 farmers, who have collectively planted about 300 hectares of hemp. While the farmers can only sell the fibers now, since the edible parts could be toxic, each crop makes the soil a little cleaner.

Vincenzo Fornaro, who owned what had been one of the most popular dairy farms, told Manisera that hemp had brought him a new outlook:

“We have to start giving back what we took from the environment and provide an alternative employment to our children. For now we use hemp only for industrial processing. I hope in the future we can use it also for nourishment. But what is certain is that we will surround the Ilva plant with hemp.”

As more and more people realize hemp’s promise, and fewer laws restrict its use, we believe millions more people will experience that same sense of hope, too.

 

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Science Explains How CBD Oil Could Help Ease Your Anxiety

As millions of Americans struggle with increasingly stressful lives, some of them are turning to cannabis, specifically CBD, to ease their anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health,…

cbd oil for anxiety

As millions of Americans struggle with increasingly stressful lives, some of them are turning to cannabis, specifically CBD, to ease their anxiety.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 18 percent of Americans experienced the symptoms of an anxiety disorder at some point over the past 12 months, making it the most common form of mental illness in the United States. Even for the rest of us, our chaotic world can still often leave us feeling overwhelmed.

Regular users of psychoactive cannabis, also commonly known as marijuana, frequently report using the substance to relax after a hard day. For many people, hemp-based CBD oil can offer similar benefits, but with few side effects and without making them feel “high”.

Just as with our recent article on using CBD for pain relief, we’ve examined both the scientific evidence and anecdotal reports from regular CBD consumers online. Though there is still a lot of research to be done into CBD and anxiety, the preliminary results looks extremely promising.

The link between cannabis, CBD, and anxiety

Paradoxically, while many people look forward to that afterwork toke, other people report struggling with paranoia when they ingest psychoactive cannabis. This seems to happen often when they take more than they’re used to. Science suggests that CBD plays a key role in this seemingly paradoxical set of responses to the same substance.

Bailey Rahn, a writer at the cannabis information site Leafly, reported that some cannabis users have successfully counteracted these feelings of paranoia by taking additional CBD oil. High CBD strains also seem to generally be less likely to induce paranoia, and are often sought out by anxiety sufferers in states with legal recreational or medicinal cannabis.

“Cannabidiol balances the buzz and softens the euphoria — or, in some cases, the dysphoria — induced by THC, which, in concentrated form, can make people feel very loopy and weird,” wrote cannabis expert Martin A. Lee in his book “Smoke Signals,” in a passage quoted by Rahn.

Science supports CBD’s ‘Considerable Potential’ as anxiety treatment

Like all extracts of hemp or cannabis, CBD oil is known to work primarily through its effects on the endocannabinoid system, where it mimics chemicals similar to cannabis that are naturally occurring in all humans. Some research has even seems to link Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety-linked conditions to lower than normal levels of these natural occurring compounds.

Currently, however, more research has been done into the effects of CBD on serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the human brain and nervous system that plays a crucial role in mood (including depression and anxiety), sleep and other key biological processes.

“Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.”

Most scientific research of CBD for anxiety is “preclinical,” meaning animal research rather than on humans, but these studies have found that CBD seems to function similarly to commonly prescribed SSRI class of pharmaceutical drugs by encouraging the action of serotonin receptors in the brain. Both SSRIs and CBD seem to promote regeneration of the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a role in both depression and anxiety.

In a survey of 34 studies which did include human subjects, published in May 2012 in Pharmaceuticals (Basel), Simon Zhornitsky and Stéphane Potvin found that CBD showed promise in numerous conditions from bipolar disorder to social anxiety.

“[P]reliminary clinical trials suggest that high-dose oral CBD (150–600 mg/d) may exert a therapeutic effect for social anxiety disorder, insomnia and epilepsy,” they wrote, but warned that high doses of CBD can “also … cause mental sedation.”

In a similar September 2015 survey, published in Neurotherapeutics, a team of 4 researchers looked at the results of both human and animal studies of CBD.

“Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders,” the team wrote, though they emphasized that further study is needed.

CBD users find lower doses can also be effective

Scientific research into CBD seems to mostly focus on its positive effect on overall anxiety levels, and anecdotal reports we read from CBD consumers suggests it may be more effective when taken regularly rather than a treatment for specific flare-ups of “acute” anxiety.

state of anxiety

“For me, it’s good for quelling the low level, day-to-day anxiety that buzzes in the background, but it isn’t strong enough to stop a panic attack the way xanax can,” wrote redditor WilliamMelvinHicks in a December discussion on Reddit.

Other redditors reported that too high of a dose of CBD can sometimes exacerbate anxiety. “That’s why [it’s] always good to start small and work yourself up,” wrote kiiinglouie, another redditor.

Though much is still waiting to be learned about CBD and anxiety, since CBD oil is legally available to consumers and has few side effects for most, it’s worth experimenting with hemp extracts to see if they can help you destress, too.

Let us know how you’re using CBD too, we’d love to hear your stories. Reach us at [email protected].

 

* This article is part 2 of our series of exploring the potential benefits of CBD oil. Read our other posts:

 

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Is It Legal To Buy And Use Hemp CBD Oil in the US? Can The DEA Ban CBD?

The Answer Is More Complex Than It Seems Is CBD oil legal in the US? Oddly, the answer seems to depend on who you ask. Despite the many benefits of…

Can the DEA ban CBD1

The Answer Is More Complex Than It Seems

Is CBD oil legal in the US? Oddly, the answer seems to depend on who you ask.

Despite the many benefits of CBD oil and a growing field of research showing both its safety and its efficacy, this popular hemp extract exists today in a confusing legal gray area.

The Drug Enforcement Agency insists that CBD oil is illegal at the federal level, while other legal experts and many vendors and producers of CBD oil think the DEA is overstepping its bounds and argue that hemp extracts are legal.

The good news is that individual consumers of CBD oil appear to be safe. There’s simply no indication that CBD-only extracts, which are made from agricultural hemp and do not cause a high like psychoactive cannabis, are being regularly targeted by anyone in law enforcement. This is especially true in states that have passed laws legalizing CBD.

We’re not lawyers, but we’ve studied the arguments of both sides, and done our best to summarize them in this article and propose what we think might happen next. While CBD’s defenders have a lot of legal ammunition on their side, ultimately whether CBD oil remains available in the future may depend on the actions of the federal government and the courts.

Congress legalized hemp growing & sales for research in 2014

Even though many states have begun to legalize psychoactive cannabis, on a federal level cannabis remains illegal. Despite the mountains of evidence that cannabis in all its forms has numerous benefits to humanity, under the rules of the Controlled Substances Act cannabis is a Schedule I substance, legally defined as a dangerous drug with no medical benefit whatsoever.

Agricultural hemp, the close, but non-psychoactive cousin of cannabis, was also illegal for decades in the United States, from shortly after the end of prohibition until the 21st-century, apart from a brief window when farmers were encouraged to grow hemp during WWII. That changed in 2014, when the annual Farm Bill included a provision allowing states with legal hemp laws on the books to begin licensing growers for research purposes. Crucially, the bill defined research broadly to even include market research, or sales of products based on hemp including CBD.


Farm Bill signed in 2014

President Obama signed the Farm Bill in 2014

Further, provisions of the 2015 and 2016 Congressional Appropriations Act forbade the U.S. government from using its funds to prosecute anyone involved in these pilot programs.

Into this new market came a number of successful hemp growers, especially in the Southeastern United States, where falling tobacco profits had left farmers eager for a new cash crop. While some CBD products are imported, many of the highest quality CBD-oil products originate with hemp grown in carefully controlled conditions here in the U.S. As word of CBD’s many benefits and few side effects spread, its popularity grew and so did sales of CBD products.

DEA creates CBD confusion after making Schedule I threat

On December 14, DEA added a notice to the Federal Register that began the process of classifying CBD as a Schedule I drug, alongside psychoactive cannabis. In the notice, the agency argued that CBD oil was already illegal, because all products still contain trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive, and illegal main active ingredient in cannabis, but this new classification would cover CBD-only products, too.

new dea rule on cbd

Federal Registrar segment on new DEA rule. 12/14/16.

Immediately, many headlines declared that it was all over for CBD in America. Leafly, a top cannabis news and information website, declared that the “New DEA Rule Says CBD Oil is Really, Truly, No-Joke Illegal.” But the hemp industry fired back, insisting that their products are protected by the 2014 Farm Bill and the subsequent Appropriations Acts.

John Ryan, founder of Ananda Hemp, which grows hundreds of acres of hemp in Kentucky and Tennessee, subsequently using it to produce CBD oil and other hemp products, strongly condemned the move.

“People need to understand that there are federal laws that the DEA cannot bypass,” Ryan told MintPress News. “If they do, they can expect legal challenges from the industry.”

Similarly, Robert Hoban, managing partner at the Denver-based Hoban Law Firm, told Fox 31 Denver that the DEA’s new classification was “an invalid rule” under the law. He continued:

At the end of the day, the DEA needs to sit down, read the Controlled Substances Act, read the farm bill and understand that what they’re saying has practical implications on commerce and on patients around this country. That’s not weight they should throw around so lightly.

Hemp food precedent shows DEA’s history of overreach

In 2001, the DEA attempted to ban the manufacture, sales or import of food and cosmetics made from agricultural hemp seeds produced overseas, using a similar argument that these products contained trace amounts of THC even though they didn’t make anyone high. In a pair of cases brought by the hemp industry, judges ruled “that the DEA had exceeded its authority and struck down the rules as void,” according to Rod Kight, a lawyer who is an expert on drug laws and an advocate for cannabis legalization.

On his blog Kight on Cannabis, Kight noted that now that hemp cultivation is legal in the U.S., the decisions made in these earlier cases apply “to domestically cultivated hemp and its products (such as extracts containing CBD) as well as imported hemp and its products.”

“In other words, marijuana extracts from non-psychoactive (industrial) hemp containing only trace amounts (or less) of naturally occurring THC is wholly legal,” he concluded.

A “clarification” of the new rule issued this month may be a sign that the DEA is backing down from some of its threats by acknowledging the limits of their authority:

By creating a new drug code for marijuana extract, the Final Rule divides into more descriptive pieces the materials, compounds, mixtures, and preparations that fall within the CSA [Controlled Substances Act] definition of marijuana. Both drug code 7360 (marijuana) and new drug code 7350 (marijuana extract) are limited to that which falls within the CSA definition of marijuana.

“It is the first time that the Federal government has explicitly stated that cannabinoids (aside from THC which is separately scheduled) are not in and of themselves illegal substances,” Kight noted in another blog entry.

Hope for CBD and hemp in an uncertain future

will hemp cbd oil continue be legal?

Based on our layman’s understanding of the law, if CBD extracts are truly free of THC, and made from agricultural hemp rather than psychoactive cannabis, they’re most likely legal and free from regulation under the Controlled Substances Act. We believe consumers should feel safe buying and using these products, although little is absolutely certain in the current political climate.

Jeff Sessions, the newly minted Attorney General of the United States, has repeatedly threatened to crack down on cannabis in states which have legalized its consumption. He has also spread misinformation about the supposed dangers of cannabis, when in reality this plant is extremely safe (apart from the risks to life and liberty posed by police under the war on drugs).

At the same time, with so many states passing laws to allow either recreational medical use of cannabis, the Justice Department could face an uphill battle if they want to turn the tide of the drug war away from legalization. Likewise, there seems to be ample state and federal laws to protect access to CBD oil for the foreseeable future, though the hemp industry could be forced to fight a potentially costly legal battle to defend itself.

While CBD extracts and CBD-based products may face legal threats in the future, at Ministry of Hemp we’re hopeful that good sense will eventually prevail. Until cannabis, hemp, and all their derivatives are completely legal, we can periodically expect to see this kind of government interference in our lives. However, with the popularity of cannabis legalization at an all-time high among both Republicans and Democrats, we think total legalization is only a matter of time.

 

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Science Explains Why CBD Oil Could Help Ease Your Chronic Pain

If you believe everything you read on the internet, CBD oil can cure almost any disease and replace every painkilling drug. Unfortunately, there’s just too much hype online. The good…

cbd for pain relief

If you believe everything you read on the internet, CBD oil can cure almost any disease and replace every painkilling drug. Unfortunately, there’s just too much hype online.

The good news is that, for conditions ranging from epilepsy to chronic pain, CBD oil is an extremely beneficial extract of the cannabis plant that, for some people, can indeed be life-changing.

Psychoactive cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, has been frequently used to relieve the suffering caused by everything from migraines to menstrual cramps. CBD oil has almost no THC, the main mind-altering chemical in cannabis, and therefore offers many of the same benefits without making users “high.”

Instead of giving you another sales pitch about the benefits of CBD, Ministry of Hemp wants to help you understand the facts and science behind the benefits — and the limitations — of this herbal extract. Starting with this article about chronic pain, we’ll be examining how CBD oil can benefit different health conditions over the next few months. Like our recent review of side effects of CBD, this report relies on looking at a variety of scientific research as well as anecdotal reports.

Chronic Pain and the Endocannabinoid System

For decades, research into cannabis and its many compounds was limited thanks to the war on drugs, but thanks to changing laws and legal CBD oil, scientists are finally beginning to understand how and why these substances can help with pain.

Cannabis tinctures were once available over the counter at almost any pharmacy and were frequently used for pain. However, until just a few decades ago, people incorrectly believed cannabis worked on the body like alcohol or opiate drugs like morphine.

How does the Endocannabinoid System work?

Human’s endocannabinoid system

Actually, special receptors found throughout our brains and nervous systems respond to naturally produced substances that are similar to cannabis, referred to by scientists as endogenous cannabinoids (endogenous means “originating within the body”). Although their behavior is a little different from psychoactive cannabis or CBD-only extract, both the body’s own chemicals and plant-based substances interact with these same receptors, known as the endocannabinoid system.

Scientists now understand that these endocannabinoids help regulate our bodies’ behavior in myriad ways, from motor function, to appetite, and the sensation of pain. And plant-based cannabinoids, also known as phytocannabinoids, seem to be capable of picking up the slack in some ways when our bodies aren’t producing enough to manage our pain.

CBD shows significant pain relief potential in scientific studies

Numerous scientific studies suggest CBD can help with many different forms of pain. In a Feb. 2003 study published in Clinical Rehabilitation, a team of researchers from Oxford examined the benefits of CBD, THC, and a combination of both in patients who suffered from “neurogenic” pain (meaning their pain originated in their nervous system).

Most of the 24 patients in the study suffered from multiple sclerosis, but others had pain from spinal cord injuries or limb amputation. The study’s subjects regularly took one or more of the substances, or a placebo, at home, for two weeks while periodically reporting into the clinic.

“Pain relief associated with both THC and CBD was significantly superior to placebo,” the researchers’ wrote. Not only did the patients experience significant relief, but in some cases other unpleasant symptoms like muscle spasms were also alleviated.
 

cbd could help with chronic pain

Another study, published in Oct. 2006 in Current Medical Research and Opinion, also supported the idea that cannabis extracts, including CBD, are especially effective in treating pain caused by multiple sclerosis. The authors looked at six different studies and found they consistently showed “Cannabinoids … are effective in treating neuropathic pain in MS.”

In March 2008, Ethan Budd Russo, a doctor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Montana, also found that CBD and cannabis in all forms offers significant benefits in the treatment of “difficult to manage pain.” Rudd’s report, another “meta-analysis” of multiple studies, is especially interesting because he reported that cannabis extracts can offer significant benefits not just when ingested orally, but also when applied topically to the skin. Many consumers have similarly reported receiving relief from topical forms of CBD oil and psychoactive cannabis.

CBD oil offers relief from menstrual cramps to migraines

To get a wider look at CBD’s potential benefits, we also searched a variety of anecdotal reports found in blogs and message boards.

Pamela Hadfield, a co-founder of the medical cannabis site HelloMD, reported in July 2015 that she “started using CBD to manage chronic pain caused by crazy, intense migraines.” While pharmaceutical drugs left her feeling mentally hazy, CBD seems to offer her immediate relief with few side effects.

Similarly, in a discussion last month on reddit, many redditors reported CBD quickly eases their menstrual cramps, though the dosage needed varies a great deal from person to person. The redditors also noticed that the quality of the CBD extract made a big difference in its effectiveness. The source and quality of CBD oil products is vitally important, as we reported in last July on Ministry of Hemp, so research all hemp products before you buy.

While many people with chronic pain benefit from CBD oil alone, others receive the most relief from a combination of CBD and THC, which unfortunately remains illegal in many parts of the U.S. For example, Donna Burch, the author of the Fed Up With Fatigue blog, suffers from fibromyalgia, a poorly understood condition that combines debilitating fatigue and insomnia with severe muscle cramps. Burch reported in Sept. 2015 that while CBD oil seemed to help her pain for a while, it became less effective over time.

She ultimately found the most relief from psychoactive cannabis after receiving a permit for legal medical use. In states with medical cannabis programs, many chronic pain patients like Burch seek out strains bred to contain high levels of CBD along with THC.

CBD Oil could be a safe option for pain management

Just as with most health conditions, people with chronic pain often find that a combination of approaches, from stretching to pharmaceutical drugs, offer the most relief. Our research shows that CBD oil can be an important part of a pain relief regimen.

Since CBD oil is legal in all states, and has few if any side effects, it’s worth finding out if it can help you too. You can buy CBD oil online, and it can be ingested as an extract, applied to the skin, or even inhaled with an e-cig, and it’s possible one form will benefit you more than another. As states continue to ease legal restrictions on cannabis use, we expect to see more and more people explore its painkilling potential.

We’ll continue to follow the latest research into the benefits of CBD oil for pain, and report them to you here on Ministry of Hemp. Let us know how you’re using CBD too, we’d love to hear your stories. Reach us at [email protected].

 

* This article is part 1 of our series of exploring the potential benefits of CBD oil. Read our other posts:
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What Are The Side Effects Of CBD Oil? Here’s What You Need To Know

With all the attention CBD has been getting, it’s easy to find information on all its benefits — but is there a downside? Does CBD have any side effects? Even…

With all the attention CBD has been getting, it’s easy to find information on all its benefits — but is there a downside? Does CBD have any side effects?

Even here at Ministry of Hemp, we’ve focused a lot on exploring the benefits of CBD oil and the endocannabinoid system over the past few months. Yet, so much has been written about how CBD is helping people that we wanted to take a look at its potential drawbacks too.

To create this article, we looked at both scientific research and anecdotal reports from CBD users. From our in-depth research, what we found suggests that the side effects of CBD oil are usually minor, and, for most people, the benefits far outweigh the rare reports of discomfort.

Does CBD have Side Effects?

Does CBD oil have side effects? If so, what are they?

It’s worth noting that even psychoactive cannabis — what’s often called marijuana — is also considered to be extremely safe, contrary to what the government wants us to believe . It’s so safe that it’s basically impossible for an adult human to ingest a fatal dose, although they can certainly make themselves feel very sick from eating or smoking too much. There’s every reason to believe that CBD extracts from hemp plants are as safe, or even safer, than psychoactive strains of cannabis.

Overall, what we’ve found shows that, just as with any health supplement, the quality and source of your CBD oil can make a big difference when it comes to side effects. In fact, many unpleasant experiences from CBD by consumers could be mainly due to impurities or poor quality CBD oil, as we’ll discuss later in this article.

What we’ve found shows that, just as with any health supplement, the quality and source of your CBD oil can make a big difference when it comes to side effects

The War on Drugs Hurts Cannabis & Hemp Research

Due to the the stigma associated with the war on drugs, free and open research into both hemp and its close relative, psychoactive cannabis, is only just beginning in many ways.

CBD side effects research

For example, the first study into the benefits of cannabis in veterans with otherwise untreatable post-traumatic stress disorder is beginning in 2017, but only after the researchers involved struggled through years of red tape and put their careers at risk in order to do promote the need for this vital research. Fortunately, their work, and that of others like them, have begun to peel back the bureaucracy preventing scientific research.

On the hemp side of the equation, the 2014 Farm Bill which legalized the growth and sales of agricultural hemp in the U.S., and the production of its derivatives like CBD oil, should help to open the way for research into the benefits and possibilities of hemp in all its forms. While we’ll summarize some of what we’ve found from our research into CBD side effects below, we expect to see a lot more research in this field in the years to come.

 

Want to learn more about CBD? Download a PDF version of ‘The Complete CBD Guide’

CBD Oil Studies Find Few Side Effects

Although the medical research is still in its preliminary stages, scientists have devoted considerable effort to proving that CBD oil is safe for human consumption.

A study published in 1986 in the International Journal of Neuroscience, examined the effects of CBD oil in 5 patients with dystonic movement disorders (muscle tremors and other forms of uncontrollable movements). CBD oil’s side effects “were mild and included hypotension [low blood pressure], dry mouth, psychomotor slowing [slowed thoughts or movements], lightheadedness, and sedation,” according to the study’s authors, Paul Consroe, Reuven Sandyk and Stuart R. Snider.

According to this study, CBD seemed to help people with their dystonia, but might have made some symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (found in 2 of the study’s subjects) a little bit worse. However, other, more recent research has found that CBD can benefit Parkinson’s patients.

One study of 8 healthy volunteers and 15 patients with epilepsy, published in 1980 in Pharmacology, looked at the side-effects of CBD when consumed daily for a month. “All patients and volunteers tolerated CBD very well and no signs of toxicity or serious side effects were detected on examination,” wrote the researchers, who also found that CBD can help some people with epilepsy.

Consuming higher dosage of CBD caused no toxicity

In 2006, a group of researchers studying the potential benefits of CBD in treating psychosis and anxiety, looked at several studies of CBD oil’s safety and summarized their findings in a paper published by the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. Noting that CBD safety was first proven through animal research, the scientists added:

“Acute CBD administration by the oral, inhalatory or intravenous route did not induce any significant toxic effect in humans. In addition, chronic administration of CBD for 30 days to healthy volunteers, at daily doses ranging from 10 to 400 mg, failed to induce any significant alteration in neurological, psychiatric or clinical exams. Finally, in patients suffering from Huntington’s disease, daily doses of CBD (700 mg) for 6 weeks did not induce any toxicity. Therefore, confirming results from animal studies, the available clinical data suggest that CBD can be safely administered over a wide dose range.

A 2007 study published in Phytomedicine found that CBD, along with other similar substances including THC (the main active ingredient in psychoactive cannabis), have potential as an anticoagulant, so people with who have diseases like hemophilia that cause problems with blood clotting should use extra caution with these substances.

An Anecdotal look at CBD Oil side effects show quality matters

Of course, since many of these studies have small sample sizes, and every person reacts a little bit differently to any substance, we looked at CBD oil users’ anecdotal reports, posted on popular online communities and forums, such as Reddit and sites that sell CBD products.

A handful of very sensitive people who use CBD oil report feeling mild mood and mind-altering effects, similar to a low dose of psychoactive cannabis, but these effects appear to be rare. Some people also reported mild digestive upset, including diarrhea, from ingesting CBD oil.

“Others have suggested the problem was actually the purity of the CBD extract.”

According to one post on Reddit, some people get headaches from using CBD oil, which is a bit unusual since CBD can also sometimes be used to treat migraines. However, other Redditors have suggested the problem was actually the purity of the CBD extract.

“I have just recently started taking CBD for headaches, and after three weeks of getting a worse headaches, I finally figured out that my CBD oil was cheap crap — and that a LOT of it is,” a Redditor named Pellquin wrote last year.

When it comes to CBD, Purity & Source Matters


CBD Oil Side Effects

Pellquin had it right: unfortunately, there’s a lot of poor quality CBD oil from unreliable brands. The CBD oil market is still in its infancy, and it can be challenging for consumers to educate themselves except through expensive trial and error. When Ministry of Hemp investigated CBD oil purity and safety in November, we found a host of potential problems.

CBD oil is a poorly regulated market and most products are imported from overseas. Since hemp absorbs chemicals from the ground, including lead and mercury, growing conditions can make a big difference. Labelling of CBD products is also often inconsistent and unclear, making it confusing for CBD consumers to know what they’re buying.

When we interviewed Carlos Frias, founder of Green Lotus and a cannabis industry expert, he gave us three pieces of advice for buying CBD oil:

  • Always ask for third party lab results when buying CBD oil
  • Pay close attention to product labeling
  • Don’t hesitate to ask a more knowledgeable expert for help.

CBD is Safe, But Research Before You Buy & Use

Overall, we found that scientists and doctors consider CBD oil to be safe for most people to use, and there are few, if any, serious side effects.

While everyone has their own unique body chemistry, it seems like the vast majority of people can ingest CBD oil without ever feeling any unpleasant side effects at all, and the remaining few will mostly likely experience only minor symptoms like stomach upset or dry mouth. Since scientists are using pure extracts from known sources, it’s likely that some consumer reports of headaches or other minor adverse reactions could be due to impurities in inferior CBD products.

As always, you should closely research the products you buy, and consult with a medical expert if you have any doubt about the best or safest way to use CBD oil.

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