Choosing CBD: What Things to Consider

Choosing CBD: What Things to Consider

As a former budtender, now a journalist and writer in the cannabis industry, friends, family, and followers frequently ask about how to choose the right CBD products. Unfortunately, there’s not really a straight answer I can provide them. Cannabis and hemp products have as many variants as we humans do. With little regulation established, several factors impact the quality, safety, and efficacy of products available on the market today.

Choosing CBD: What Things to Consider

Kristina Etter

Kristina Etter

@CannaJournalist

Because of this, as well as the differences in our body chemistry, metabolism, and even DNA structure, cannabinoids can’t be prescribed like aspirin — there’s no standard dosing regimen. Similar to how one might try other herbs, such as turmeric or curcumin, for health and wellness, hemp and cannabis-based supplementation takes a little experimentation to achieve the desired effects.

Plus, the CBD industry is booming, despite having little regulation. So this landscape attracts the vultures, the fly-by-night snake oil salesmen, and the greedy, do-anything-for-an-extra-buck con-artists. Buyers beware, in the early days of this new market — you need to look for the warning signs and be vigilant about doing your homework.

First of all, know the terminology of various products. Similar to taking your car to the mechanic, if you’re not at least somewhat educated, a shady salesman may try to sell you something you don’t want or charge you for changing the air in your tires. Arming yourself with information is never a bad idea:

  • Full-Spectrum — these products contain a full representation of the cannabinoids found in the original plant material, so the final product will contain some level of THC.
  • Broad-Spectrum — these products contain all the cannabinoids, except for THC. Many times they’ll be labeled “THC-Free.”
  • Isolates — this is only CBD — no other cannabinoids, no other terpenes, just CBD.

The biggest thing to note between products is that cannabinoids and other compounds in the plant tend to work together to enhance the effects of the CBD; this is called the “Entourage Effect.” CBD isolates can’t take advantage of the other cannabinoids because they’ve all been removed. My personal experience is that CBD isolates don’t work as well as other broad or full-spectrum products.

Legality is still a consideration. First and foremost, depending on where you live, you need to look at your lifestyle and determine whether or not it’s worth the risk. While CBD products, derived from hemp, are considered legal in most states, there are some caveats to consider.

One of the top headlines we see year after year involves how the CBD industry is failing with inaccurate testing and labeling. In the latest reports from the FDA, only 45% of the sampled products fell within 20% +- of what their label said — and that’s a pretty big gap for inaccuracies. This revelation means, although the label states the product is THC-free, it may not be. While this may not be a problem for many people, it may create unwanted side effects, or cause the consumer to test positive for THC. Unfortunately, in many states, THC can lead to a plethora of problems, like job loss, denial of housing, even losing custody of children.

For example, let’s say you live in Iowa, and you’ve been using a full-spectrum CBD tincture to help you fall asleep at night. You’re confident the product is legal because the label says it has less than .3% THC. But, on your way home from work, you’re involved in a fender-bender, and the officer determines they want to do a blood test on both parties to determine intoxication. The other driver comes back right at the legal limit with a .08 BAC, and your test comes back positive for THC because of your CBD tincture. Who do you think is going to get blamed for that accident in a conservative state like Iowa?

Once you know you’re not in any legal danger from using a mislabeled CBD product, next, you need to ask yourself a few questions about your current health and lifestyle.

Are you taking any life-saving prescriptions? CBD is considered a “competitive inhibitor,” which means it can actually prevent or reduce the efficacy of certain pharmaceutical medications. Similar to how grapefruit juice can interfere with some drugs, CBD can do the same. If this is the case, you absolutely want to discuss your plan with your physician before you start experimenting.

For what purpose do you want to try CBD? Your goals for adding CBD should be taken into consideration as well. Are you trying to improve your sleep? Maybe to reduce anxiety? What are your intended outcomes? Different products and formulations may impact your end goals, so being aware of what you’re attempting to achieve will help narrow down where to start. For example:

  • Sleep formulations may include melatonin or CBN
  • Anxiety formulations may include terpenes like limonene or linalool
  • Other products may include a combination of herbal constituents

How do you want to consume CBD? Although smokeable hemp products are gaining popularity, many people these days do not want to spark a joint to ‘medicate.’ Fortunately, thanks to the legalization of cannabis and hemp, the various products have evolved. Today, consumers can choose from tinctures, capsules, or vape pens, as well as a wide range of edibles and beverages. Now, before you answer too quickly, let’s take a look at the science of bioavailability. Different products absorb differently in the body:

I know, I know — I can’t have this conversation without someone saying, “Just smoke it, yo!” But, since I’ve been involved in the cannabis industry, I’ve learned there’s good reason to be particular about what you’re consuming. Cannabis and hemp absorb the toxins in their environment, so if the cultivators don’t take great care, the end products could contain toxins, as well.

Look at it like this; the pharmaceutical, agricultural, and tobacco industries have already proven that, when given the opportunity, greedy men will do whatever it takes to increase their bottom line. Likewise, without regulation and oversight, shady cultivators and producers will do whatever is necessary to increase their profits as well, including using dangerous pesticides, fertilizers, and additives, which can be deadly to the consumer.

Need more proof? Last year, the industry was plagued with illicit vape cartridges loaded with Vitamin E acetate. Even in the early days of the legal industry, commercial cannabis growers were testing positive for Eagle20. Regulations protect the consumer from inconsiderate manufacturers.

So, how can you tell a good CBD producer from a bad one? Look for these red flags:

Origin: Unfortunately, newly legal hemp states haven’t figured out all the rules yet. Try to stick with products that are made in Colorado, Oregon, California, and Kentucky. These states have well-established laboratories for testing, and they have more state-enforced regulations than most other states. If they are secretive about their production location, run. Counterfeit CBD can be purchased out of labs in China and Hong Kong and has been known to make people sick.

Third-Party Lab-Testing: Look for the potency of both CBD and THC, as well as any toxin reports. All CBD products should be tested for heavy metal contamination. If they don’t list this test, ask for it. If they can’t provide it, I wouldn’t buy it.

NO MLMs!: Multi-level marketing companies are the shadiest of them all. Do not fall into this trap.

So, before I make a list of CBD companies, know that I won’t recommend a product I haven’t personally tried, and I make nothing from recommending these companies. I am not an affiliate, and I haven’t received any kick-backs for mentioning them:

1) Mary’s Nutritionals/Mary’s Medicinals — this is a Colorado-based company, and their products played a significant role in ending my husband’s opiate addiction. Their cannabis-derived products are sold under the Medicinals brand in several legal states, while hemp-derived products are sold online under the Nutritionals line. Marys has a wide range of product forms, including gel pens, capsules, tinctures, and even transdermal patches.

2) Bluebird Botanicals — another Colorado-based hemp company, Bluebird has been recognized for how well they manage their batch testing and provide complete, accurate test results with every product.

3) Wyld CBD — a newcomer to the market, this is an Oregon-based company. They have a unique and delicious product line. I just had the opportunity to try their THC gummies last week for the first time out of a dispensary in Pueblo.

4) Mountain High Selects — Mountain High Suckers was a pioneer in the Colorado cannabis industry. Now, they have a full line of delicious suckers and candies made from hemp-derived CBD, with no THC, so that everyone can enjoy them!

5) QuantaCBD — nano-emulsion and increasing the molecular vibration, makes these CBD products second to none in efficacy. Quanta salves are incredible for joint pain and post-workout sore muscles.

No single person is created the same. Likewise, CBD products can vary from brand to brand and even batch to batch. If you don’t achieve the results you want from one product, try a different one. Almost everyone who’s found success with cannabis or hemp did so through experimentation. Always start with a low dose and stick with that dose for a few days before you increase your dose. I encourage you to keep a journal to help you determine which products work well for you and which ones don’t.

Remember, learning how CBD affects you is a personal learning process, so while our friends can make recommendations, and tell us what works really well for them, bear in mind, you might not have the same results. Keep reading, keep learning, and keep trying.

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Smokin’ with B-Real

Smokin’ with B-Real

Smokin’ with B-Real

As a small-time, freelance writer and journalist, getting to do celebrity interviews is a rare and treasured experience. Although I had the opportunity to spend 15 minutes on a phone call with Tommy Chong once, interviewing B-Real, frontman for Cypress Hill has been the highlight of my year so far.

The Stündenglass is a devastator. If you want to test your level of stoner, this will do it.

This was just our chance to smoke with a legend. For the full interview with Cannabis Tech, see the video below!

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I Stand Corrected: The Truth about Delta-8 THC

I Stand Corrected: The Truth about Delta-8 THC

My career as a cannabis advocate and writer has morphed over the years. In the early days, after witnessing the miraculous difference it made for my husband and me, I was your typical, biased cannabis advocate. I thought cannabis was the savior for mankind. — “Why the hell aren’t we putting CBD in the water supply, rather than mind-numbing fluoride,” I often wondered. My blogs consisted of all the miraculous things cannabis can do, our successes, and all the things I was learning as a budtender and a part-time blogger.

I Stand Corrected: The Truth about Delta-8 THC

Kristina Etter

Kristina Etter

@CannaJournalist

And then I became a journalist. The difference between blogger and journalist is that as a journalist, I had to explore both sides of the argument. I had to understand things, not just from the eyes of an advocate, but as a lawmaker, as a public health official, as a regulator… in other words, as the opposition. And over time, I started to develop a different perspective.

Interviewing scientists, researchers, and the people behind the scenes of the cannabis industry, I gained a new perspective. The more I learned, the more conservative I became in my stance, the more respect I gained for the pioneers who came before me, and the more I appreciated the freedoms I have in Colorado.

I learned how intricate and complex the cannabis industry really is, and most of all, I’ve learned that all cannabis is not created equal.

Call me a purist — but I like my plant medicine actually from a plant and not from a lab. This is why we started using cannabis instead of pharmaceuticals in the first place, and this is precisely why I’m publicly changing my stance on Delta-8 THC.

I Feel Betrayed by Commercial Delta-8 THC

As an ‘isomer’ of Delta-9 THC — meaning it has the same atoms, they are just arranged differently, Delta-8 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in 

tiny, minuscule quantities. So, since it technically does occur naturally, the marketers are calling it a natural substance. But what they don’t tell you is that not one single Delta-8 product on the market today is naturally extracted. None.

Yes, Delta-8 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, but it is NOT a naturally extracted cannabinoid in the commercial market. ALL of it is produced in a lab. I asked Christopher Hudalla, Founder and CSO from ProVerde Labs, if it was even possible to extract Delta-8 naturally for commercial production. (His response is below.)

Update: Watch the video above for a one-on-one interview with Eloise Theisen about the dangers of Delta-8.

“Could Delta-8 THC be extracted & purified from hemp? Possible, yes. Economically feasible, no.

In the analysis of over 18,000 samples [of hemp], 98.5% had NO measurable concentrations of Delta-8-THC. Of the ones that did contain Delta-8, the average concentration was only about 0.0018%. CBD is easy to recover from hemp by extraction and recrystallization. THC cannot be isolated quite so easily. Ignoring the challenge and costs associated with recovering Delta-8, you would have to process approximately 55,000 kilos of hemp to produce 1 kilo of Delta-8-THC. Continuing to ignore the challenge with isolation and purification of the THC, if you assume that a kilo of hemp is around $400, then the cost of just the biomass to yield a kilo of Delta-8 THC would be somewhere around $22,000,000.

If you start to factor in the amount of work necessary and the cost associated with extraction and isolation of the Delta-8, I would estimate that a kilo of Delta-8-THC, extracted and purified from naturally sourced hemp, would be somewhere between $200,000,000 and $500,000,000. Maybe with some economy of scale, you could cut that price in half, maybe $100,000,000… Again, not economically very feasible…”

Sure, 90% of the product might be Delta-8, but what if the other 10% is something that could kill you?

Marketing Deception

Why the deceptiveness in marketing? Because the CBD market is tanking, and producers need to turn a profit. CBD is produced in mass quantities in hemp, and a little goes a long way, so the current market is drastically over-supplied. According to Julie Lerner at PanXchange, the entire industry only needs 59 acres to support the current CBD market.

So, producers are taking their hemp-derived CBD extract to a lab, where they use chemicals like acetic acid (and in many cases, bleach) to convert the CBD to Delta-9 THC and then to Delta-8. Because a product that promises to get consumers high legally — is flying off the shelves.

Terrifyingly, Josh Swider, CEO of Infinite CAL, a highly respected cannabis testing lab in California, told me that many producers making these products cannot carry a chemistry conversation. So, as the demand increases, amateur chemists are finding ways to make the product and do it as inexpensively as possible in the good name of capitalism.

Then, they shop around for the best lab report they can find — which might be some unaccredited lab in some dude’s basement. There is no federal regulation on testing protocols, which means test results will vary from lab to lab. Plus, for hemp, there are no federally mandated testing requirements. So, many producers are ‘cherry-picking’ the report that best supports their cause — profit.

In other words, the cannabinoid craze, combined with legalized hemp with little to no oversight did exactly what we feared — turned hemp producers into pharmaceutical salesmen who will say anything and sell anything as long as they can turn a dollar. Unfortunately, in these cases, profits often come ahead of consumer safety — the very thing that medical cannabis pioneers sought to avoid.

Now, Delta-8 THC isn’t the equivalent of K2 or Spice; those are lab-made, chemical substances that mimic cannabinoids. Delta-8 THC is an actual cannabinoid, but, calling commercial Delta-8 THC a “hemp-derived” or a “natural” product is the equivalent of calling codeine a “poppy-derived, natural” herbal supplement.

The Dirty, Bathtub Crank of Hemp

Some of the articles I’ve read about producing Delta-8 THC call it a simple process. But speaking with two of the biggest, most respected labs in the cannabis industry, as well as Ph.D. chemists, I can tell you it is anything but. Improperly done, the chemical conversion can spell catastrophe for consumers.

Infinite CAL tested more than 2000 samples of Delta-8 products last year. Of those samples, only six were compliant with the legal limits of Delta-9 THC, and just two were actually pure Delta-8 THC extract. It is impossible not to create Delta-9 during the conversion process, and isolating and separating the two cannabinoids is difficult, even for the best labs.

Unfortunately, excess Delta-9 is the least of my worries with these products. In testing, many of them showed much more than consumers bargain for with numerous unidentified components found in the test results. In fact, Swider told me in an interview that “some of them looked like a rain forest on the chromatogram.”

But why stop with just one lab? Speaking with Hudalla from ProVerde, about Delta-8 THC through a conversation on LinkedIn, he sent me this chromatogram. Understand that every visible peak on this is some type of substance — then take note of how many of them are unidentified.

As Swider said, “Sure, 90% of the product might be Delta-8, but what if the other 10% is something that could kill you?”

What if one of those peaks is bleach? Many California-born products in the early days were made with bleach. Bleach is a carcinogen. Would you want to inhale bleach in any quantity?

Like the vape crisis of 2019, it’s only going to take one distracted chemist to cause a national uproar over these products. The question is, why do we have to wait for someone to get sick when test results clearly show that many of these products are questionable?

What Makes Cannabis Any Better?

While I frequently remind people that cannabis and hemp are the same plant, grown in different ways, with different genetic variations. The two industries are light years apart.

Legal cannabis is regulated at a state-level. This doesn’t mean the regulations are ‘less-stringent’ — remember there are no federal regulations about cannabis cultivation because it’s still illegal in the fed’s eyes. State regulations are very strict, and violations are severe. Every single thing that goes into the cultivation of those plants is monitored, tested, regulated, and controlled.

In today’s world of legal cannabis, consumers know exactly what they are consuming. Numerous companies have been shut down for contaminated products, improper dosing, and blatantly ignoring regulations. Ingredient labels spell out every nutrient that was used during cultivation.

Unfortunately, the same is not true for the hemp industry. There are no mandated testing requirements, there are no labeling requirements, and enforcement of shady marketing practices is nearly impossible. In fact, some of these companies are labeling their products “THC-free” — despite the fact that Delta-8 is, itself, a form of THC.

Delta-8 Is NOT Legal

Delta-8 producers are banking on semantics in the game of legality. As I stated earlier, they claim because Delta-8 THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid and the process starts with CBD extracted from hemp (and not just chemically produced) that Delta-8 THC is not technically “synthesized,” instead it’s “converted” using laboratory processes.

In other words, they claim “synthesized” means made entirely in a lab, whereas “conversion” is the chemical alteration of one natural substance to another natural substance. Tomayto/Tomahto — it’s made in a lab.

You want to know the irony of this… in Colorado (and 10 other states) — Delta-8 THC is explicitly illegal by state law. A cannabis and hemp-loving state has banned the sale of Delta-8 THC. Several states ban Delta-8-THC in their state laws. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah. Why? Because they know it is a man-made cannabinoid. Why is this bad?

The USDA Final Ruling states explicitly that ALL synthetic forms of tetrahydrocannabinols are federally controlled substances. Why do they want to do this? Because they prefer pharmaceutical-grade chemists to create synthetics for specific medical use. Not a junior lab technician in a lab that opened six months ago, and definitely not “Joe Hemp Farmer” in his Morton building, who watched a YouTube video about how to do it.

Be Patient, The Real Deal is Coming

As Lerner stated in her year-end report on the hemp market, when the pandemic hit, cannabis was deemed essential, ultimately causing the industry to boom. Unfortunately, the opposite was true of the CBD market. She said, “Why have a non-fat, decaf, sugar-free latte when you can have the real deal?”

Look, I get it — people want to get high, especially those who live in non-legal states. But is it worth stomping on the legacy of an industry and bastardizing the natural plant to chase it? Legal cannabis is coming, people… find patience.

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It’s Time to Take Cannabis Seriously

It’s Time to Take Cannabis Seriously

In recent news, a man in Minnesota, Greg Ulrich, went on a rampage at a pain clinic. Carrying guns and explosive devices, he critically injured three people and killed one. His motive was that he allegedly wanted prescription narcotics that the clinic refused to prescribe for him, and he had been frustrated for years about the level of care he received from this clinic.

Reportedly Ulrich had expressed his frustrations on numerous occasions, even calling the police to ask how to sue a hospital for “performing unnecessary surgery which left him a cripple.”

It’s Time to Take Cannabis Seriously

Kristina Etter

Kristina Etter

@CannaJournalist

When do we acknowledge the opiate epidemic again?

We’ve been distracted by the global pandemic, but this story shines a light on why we must not forget about the addiction problem that plagues our society.

This is, unfortunately, not shocking to me. I watched my husband go through the same thing, ask some of the very same questions this man did, and build up the same level of frustration while under the care of a Minnesota pain clinic. But rather than take his frustrations out on the clinic, the doctors, and the nurses, I became the scapegoat, and his legal addiction nearly destroyed our marriage.

Living in Minnesota, I watched helplessly as the drugs they fed my husband changed him and nearly destroyed our life. With degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and a cervical fusion, the doctors in the Midwest told my husband he would likely always need opiates, and we listened. They kept him well-supplied with Vicodin, Percocet, and even Fentanyl, as well as gabapentin, Flexeril, and a whole slew of other medications.

Cannabis for Pain and Addiction

On March 18th this year, my husband will celebrate five years opiate-free. After ten years living from prescription to prescription, we moved to Colorado, and he walked away from opiates in 2016. Despite the odds, he did what everyone told him he couldn’t — he ended his dependence on opioid medication without methadone, without suboxone, and without a single day of withdrawal.

The truth is, my husband used legal cannabis for three months before he even applied for his medical card.

Read that sentence again.

In the beginning, we bought everything he needed on the recreational side of the Colorado weed market. Anyone over the age of 21 visiting Denver for the weekend could buy the very same products my husband used to kick-start the end of his 10-year dependence on doctor-prescribed opiates.

While my husband’s experience is extraordinary, it’s not uncommon. More and more research supports the idea of cannabis as an exit drug for opioid users.

Minnesota’s Failed Medical Cannabis Program

You might be saying, “But I thought Minnesota had a medical cannabis program?” And you’d be correct; the state legalized medical cannabis in 2014 and then promptly implemented one of the most restrictive programs in the nation. With just two legal providers and 13 dispensaries across the massive state, patients have incredibly restricted access.

According to recent research, this is counter-productive. Cannabis only works when people have easy, affordable access to it.

New research published in the British Journal of Medicine by a researcher from Yale University, Balázs Kovács, Associate Professor, shows a correlation with increased access to legal cannabis, opioid deaths dropped. In fact, according to the study,

• After studying opioid-related deaths from 2014 to 2018 in 23 US states that allowed legal cannabis dispensaries, researchers found an increase from one to two dispensaries in a county was associated with an estimated 17% reduction in all opioid-related mortality rates.

• This association held for both medical and recreational dispensaries and appeared particularly strong for deaths associated with synthetic opioids other than methadone, with an estimated 21% reduction in mortality rates associated with an increase from one to two dispensaries.

• An increase from two to three dispensaries was associated with a further 8.5% reduction in all opioid-related mortality rates.

From this research, increased access clearly reveals the positive impact of medical cannabis for many people looking for alternatives to opioids.

Minnesota Cannabis is Limited

In Minnesota, not only are dispensaries few and far between, but they are limited to offering vape cartridges, capsules, tinctures, and topicals. Let me tell you from experience… NONE of these products helped my husband’s pain. CBD capsules worked wonders to help him ‘unlearn’ the habit of taking a pill at certain times of the day, but vape cartridges, tinctures, and most topicals had very little impact on my husband’s pain.

Minnesota Cannabis is Overpriced

In capitalism, supply and demand set the price of all commodities. So, where you have limited access and limited products, you automatically have higher prices.

In the image below, I took screenshots from a website belonging to a dispensary in Minnesota (on the left), a Colorado Springs medical marijuana dispensary (in the center), and the Denver recreational market (on the right).

The Minnesota price is over five times higher than the products available in the Colorado Springs area and six times higher than what’s available in Denver’s rec market.

Even just the cost of getting a medical card can be difficult for some, as the state requires $200 to register for medical marijuana. Now, factor in the fact that medical marijuana is not covered by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. So, not only do they charge them to be a patient and refuse to help with the costs of their medicine — they up-charge them in the name of capitalism.

Not all Marijuana is Created Equal

Naysayers will read the reports about Ulrich, who was previously arrested for possession of marijuana, and say, “Well, it obviously wasn’t working for him.” No, the occasional recreational use of cannabis is not going to help anyone. In fact, it can spell disaster for anyone dependent on opioids in Minnesota.

You see, in Minnesota, if you’re seeing a pain specialist and receiving opioid-based medications, you are required to have a random urinalysis. The last appointment my husband attended before moving to Colorado, he had actually been using cannabis for a couple of weeks. So, when his UA came back positive for THC, the nurse warned him, “If you test positive for THC again, we won’t fill your prescriptions.”

Had my husband not known that he was moving to Colorado, he probably would’ve lost it, too.

Understanding Cannabis Takes Time — Start Now

Using cannabis with intent and responsibility for medical purposes takes understanding a different approach to using the herb.

For my husband, the secret formula involved high-doses of CBD in the beginning, paired with THC-based edibles. We now understand the science behind why edibles work for him, but smoking, vaping, and tinctures don’t. We also learned that product formulations vary from product to product, and there was a lot of trial and error at first. We kept a journal and tracked what worked and what didn’t.

What I’m trying to say is that learning how to use cannabis took a specific approach, and there were several products he tried that didn’t help him at all. Each individual will find their own path with cannabis. There’s no easy way to recommend a particular cannabis formula because of the variances in body chemistry and even our DNA.

As a former cannabis advisor in Denver, now an author, writer, and journalist in the cannabis and hemp space, I’ll be the first to say — we need more research. We need the studies that will prove what many of us have learned through trial and error — cannabis works.

Cannabis CAN change lives; my husband and I are living proof — but we had to leave Minnesota to do it.

It’s time — people cannot wait any longer for solutions. Legislation must be written to lift the veil entirely. You can’t restrict access, restrict products, and restrict the consumers and expect to still reap the benefits. Minnesota — it’s time to release the restrictions on medical cannabis and give people real options for pain and addiction treatment. It’s time to take cannabis seriously.

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Low-THC Cannabis: A New Twist on Hemp

Low-THC Cannabis: A New Twist on Hemp

Low-THC Cannabis: A New Twist on Hemp

Written by ketter74

February 4, 2021

Without question, the 2018 Farm Bill opened up a world of opportunity for the farming industry with the legalization of hemp. Suddenly, hemp became the trend and was being added to everything under the sun, including foods, beverages, cosmetics, and even bedsheets. CBD became an instant sensation, as producers carefully labeled their products “hemp-derived,” separate themselves from its controversial cousin, cannabis.

Cannaflower is hemp by legal definition, the way it is grown, harvested, and marketed makes it more akin to cannabis.

Taking a completely different strategy, one hemp producer, Cannaflower, is leaning into, and aligning itself with, the more infamous herb. With consumer education at the core of their mission, CEO and co-founder Will Treinens hopes to blaze a new path with smokable, low-THC cannabis.

I recently sat down with Will for an interview to discuss their approach and the impact it has on cannabis stigmas, and here’s what I learned.

What’s the Difference Between High-CBD Hemp and Low-THC Cannabis?

In a word, NOTHING.

Hemp is cannabis — by scientific classification. The standards of THC potency are imposed by governments, not Mother Nature. So, although Cannaflower is hemp by legal definition, the way it is grown, harvested, and marketed makes it more akin to cannabis.

The variants in the cultivars allow professional breeders to perfect characteristics, no differently than Pioneer DuPont worked for decades to perfect corn genetics. Stabilizing the genetics of a plant takes years of selective breeding. While the recreational cannabis market is working to produce higher and higher THC content, low-THC producing cannabis cultivars are highly sought after in the hemp industry.

Watch this video on our YouTube Channel: Seed & STEM!

Will explained that their methods for growing hemp aren’t what you’d expect. When we think of hemp farms, we typically think of vast, expansive fields of tall, stringy industrial hemp. Yet, hemp grown for consumption purposes is grown much, much differently.

In fact, Cannaflower is following in the footsteps of the cannabis industry in how they cultivate their products. Much of their products are grown indoors using regenerative techniques to ensure a clean, quality yield that is also environmentally friendly. But they don’t just trust the processes — they rigorously test their plants throughout the entire seed to sale process.

Cannaflower provides laboratory analysis for each of their products, including potency, terpenes, contaminants, and heavy metals.

Why Smoke Low-THC Cannabis?

Many traditional cannabis consumers look at smokable hemp the same way many alcohol drinkers look at non-alcoholic beer. What’s the point?

However, with low-THC cannabis, there are several segments of consumer who I believe might enjoy the lighter version:

· Make Tolerance Breaks Tolerable — Tolerance is a dirty word to the recreational consumer. To combat the body’s ability to build a THC resistance, consumers must take an occasional break to bring their tolerance back down. Low-THC cannabis offers smokers the ability to reduce their tolerance without giving up the cannabis.

· Kick the Nicotine Habit — many people have reported being able to reduce or altogether quit smoking nicotine-based cigarettes using smokable hemp. One thing is for certain, hemp is showing potential for health benefits — cigarettes have no redeeming value whatsoever.

· Functional Effects without the Paranoia — look, not everyone can handle the psychoactive effects produced by the highly potent cannabis strains in the legal cannabis industry. Low-THC cannabis can provide a functional, light effect more conducive to productivity, focus, and clarity.

Is Low-THC Cannabis for You?

Before you run out and buy some, there are a few caveats I feel I need to mention. Although hemp is legal across all of the US and Cannaflower can legally ship their product to all 50 states, it’s up to you to find out how your state feels about the smokable products.

For example, my Iowa friends — you may want to think twice before purchasing smokable hemp products. Unfortunately, your Republican Governor, Kim Reynolds, vision is tainted. Rather than merely decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and reducing the police’s workload, she opted to criminalize smokable hemp and increase their workload and overcrowd jails. As a serious misdemeanor in Iowa, retailers selling smokable or inhalable hemp products, or consumers caught using them, face up to a year of jail time and a fine of $315-$1,875.

Why? Because roadside tests used by law enforcement in the state can’t tell the difference between low-THC cannabis and the real thing. So rather than adapt to a new industry, Iowa lawmakers choose to criminalize it.

Other states that have enacted some type of smokable hemp ban include:

      • Idaho
      • Indiana
      • Kentucky
      • Louisiana
      • Massachusetts
      • Texas

My Two Cents on Cannaflower

So, I have been on a mission lately to taste and compare smokable hemp, aka low-THC cannabis. As a former budtender and daily cannabis consumer, I feel like I have higher-than-average standards for the products I consume. I have a strong background comparing the various products in the cannabis market, so why not spend a little time evaluating this new segment in hemp?

But first off, I want to thank Cannaflower for sending me samples of their products in exchange for an honest review.

As a writer and content creator, I’m so impressed with Cannaflower’s marketing. From their packaging to their content — this company is on-point, taking smokable hemp to a whole new level with a simple twist in perspective. Calling their products low-THC cannabis, rather than smokable hemp, immediately sets it apart from other companies.

Additionally, the quality of their flower is top-shelf. When I worked as a budtender in Denver, we had several strains of low-THC cannabis we carried on our dispensary’s medical side. Strains like AC/DC and others that naturally produced low THC levels often brought premium prices at $40-$60 an eighth, and this rivals them all for half that price.

I tried several different strains from Cannaflower, including Hawaiian Haze, Lemon Drop, and Sour Space Candy. The first thing I noticed was the aromas of each of the varieties. The nose on the different strains was impressive; these products are obviously terpene-rich.

Smoking them was even better.

The effect of these products is light and mild, especially for seasoned cannabis consumers. However, despite a high tolerance, these products’ effects were calming, clear-headed, and alert. Although I felt relaxed, I didn’t feel sedated, which provided a lovely, productive mood that carried through the morning.

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