(POLITICS) Oregon Cannabis Processor Quits Industry Over CBD Oil Violations

Oregon Cannabis Processor Quits Industry Over CBD Oil Violations

(PLAINVIEW/iStock)

An Oregon cannabis company has given up its state license to process cannabis products after being hit with a number of violations for allegedly delivering CBD oil to unlicensed retailers.

Portland-based Modern Medicinals routed CBD oil to at least two health and wellness centers in Oregon, state regulators say. The company also allegedly falsified track-and-trace data in order to allow the products to be diverted.

Oregon cannabis producers are exploring growing hemp for CBD in light of rapidly falling cannabis prices.

According to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Board, Modern Medicinals delivered the CBD oil to Mandala Medicine & Wellness, which offers acupuncture and massage therapy in Portland, and Salem Hypnosis Solutions, which uses hypnosis in therapies to promote things such as weight loss, smoking cessation, stress reduction, and memory improvement.

Regulators announced Monday that Modern Medicinals has accepted a letter of reprimand for the charged violations, withdrew its request for a hearing, and allowed its processor license to expire. Regulators ratified the stipulated settlement on April 19.

In addition to three violations for the alleged diversion, Modern Medicinals was hit with a fourth violation for claiming its CBD oil, which was produced as an adult-use cannabis product, had “comprehensive pain relief properties” and other “medicinal effects.”

More and more state-licensed cannabis producers are exploring growing hemp for CBD oil production in light of rapidly falling cannabis prices in Oregon. Since 2015, the price for a gram of cannabis has fallen about 50%, according to a report by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. Meanwhile, farmers can reportedly make more than $100,000 an acre growing hemp.

As grower Jerrad McCord told the Associated Press, “Word on the street is everybody thinks hemp’s the new gold rush.”

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Marijuana growers turning to hemp as CBD extract explodes (Oregon)

In this April 24, 2018 photo, ...
Don Ryan, The Associated Press

In this April 24, 2018 photo, pollen is removed from a hemp plant at the Unique Botanicals facility in Springfield, Ore. A glut of legal marijuana has driven pot prices to rock-bottom levels in Oregon, and an increasing number of nervous growers are pivoting to another type of cannabis to make ends meet – hemp.

 

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — A glut of legal marijuana is driving Oregon pot prices to rock-bottom levels, prompting some nervous growers to start pivoting to another type of cannabis to make ends meet — one that doesn’t come with a high.

Applications for state licenses to grow hemp — marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin — have increased more than twentyfold since 2015, making Oregon No. 2 behind Colorado among the 19 states with active hemp cultivation. The rapidly evolving market comes amid skyrocketing demand for a hemp-derived extract called cannabidiol, or CBD, seen by many as a health aid.

In its purified distilled form, CBD oil commands thousands of dollars per kilogram, and farmers can make more than $100,000 an acre growing hemp plants to produce it. That distillate can also be converted into a crystallized form or powder.

“Word on the street is everybody thinks hemp’s the new gold rush,” Jerrad McCord said, who grows marijuana in southern Oregon and just added 12 acres (5 hectares) of hemp. “This is a business. You’ve got to adapt, and you’ve got to be a problem-solver.”

It’s a problem few predicted when Oregon voters opened the door to legal marijuana four years ago.

The state’s climate is perfect for growing marijuana, and growers produced bumper crops. Under state law, none can leave Oregon. That, coupled with a decision to not cap the number of licenses for growers, has created a surplus.

Oregon’s inventory of marijuana is staggering for a state its size. There are nearly 1 million pounds (450,000 kilograms) of usable flower in the system, and an additional 350,000 pounds (159,000 kilograms) of marijuana extracts, edibles and tinctures.

“Usable flower” refers to the dried marijuana flower — or bud — that is most commonly associated with marijuana consumption.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates the industry, says some of the inventory of flower goes into extracts, oils and tinctures — which have increased in popularity — but the agency can’t say how much. A comprehensive market study is underway.

Yet the retail price for a gram of pot has fallen about 50 percent since 2015, from $14 to $7, according to a report by the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. Growers and retailers alike have felt the sting.

“Now we’re starting to look at drastic means, like destroying product. At some point, there’s no more storage for it,” Trey Willison said, who switched his operation from marijuana to hemp this season. “Whoever would have thought we’d get to the point of destroying pounds of marijuana?”

That stark prospect is driving more of Oregon’s marijuana entrepreneurs toward hemp, a crop that already has a foothold in states like Colorado and Kentucky and a lot of buzz in the cannabis industry. In Oregon, the number of hemp licenses increased from 12 in 2015 to 353 as of last week.

Colorado and Washington were the first states to broadly legalize marijuana. Both have seen price drops for marijuana but not as significant as Oregon.

Like marijuana, the hemp plant is a cannabis plant, but it contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, the compound that gives pot its high. Growing industrial hemp is legal under federal law, and the plant can be sold for use in things like fabric, food, seed and building materials.

But the increasing focus in Oregon is the gold-colored CBD oil that has soared in popularity among cannabis connoisseurs and is rapidly going mainstream. At least 50 percent of hemp nationwide is being grown for CBD extraction, and Oregon is riding the crest of that wave, Eric Steenstra said, president of Vote Hemp, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for pro-hemp legislation.

“There are a lot of growers who already have experience growing cannabis, and when you’re growing for CBD, there are a lot of the same techniques that you use for growing marijuana,” he said. “Oregon is definitely a hotbed of activity around this.”

CBD is popping up in everything from cosmetics to chocolate bars to bottled water to pet treats. One Los Angeles bar sells drinks containing the oil, massage therapists use creams containing CBD and juice bars offer the stuff in smoothies. Dozens of online sites sell endless iterations of CBD oils, tinctures, capsules, transdermal patches, infused chocolates and creams with no oversight.

Proponents say CBD offers a plethora of health benefits, from relieving pain to taming anxiety. Scientists caution, however, that there have been very few comprehensive clinical studies of how CBD affects humans — mostly because the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration still considers cannabidiol extract off-limits, and the government requires special dispensation to study it.

Pre-clinical studies have shown promise for treatment of chronic pain, neuro-inflammation, anxiety, addiction and anti-psychotic effects in animals, mostly rodents, Ziva Cooper said, an associate professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University who focuses her research on the therapeutic potential of cannabis and cannabinoids.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration next month could approve the first drug derived from CBD. It’s used to treat forms of epilepsy.

Christina Sasser, co-founder of Vital Leaf, isn’t waiting for government action to market CBD products in stores and online. She sells about 500 bottles of Oregon-sourced CBD oil a month and ships only to customers living in states with state-run hemp pilot programs, to better avoid the possibility of legal trouble.

“Everybody in the CBD world has recognized the risks involved, and I would say the vast majority of us really believe in the power of the plant and are willing to operate in this, sort of, gray area,” she said.

Willison was selling marijuana clones to pot startups when he realized last spring he was selling way more clones than Oregon’s market could support. The two-story building where he grew 200 pounds of weed a month sits nearly empty, and a greenhouse built to expand his pot business is packed with hemp plants instead.

He breeds hemp plants genetically selected for their strong CBD concentration, harvests the seeds and extracts CBD from the remaining plants that can fetch up to $13,000 per kilogram. His future looks bright again.

“The (marijuana) market is stuck within the borders of Oregon — it’s locked within the state,” he said, as he took a break from collecting tiny grains of pollen from his plants. “But hemp is an international commodity now.”

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CBD vs THC – What are the Main Differences?

CBD vs THC – What are the Main Differences?

CBD vs. THC? Of the at least 113 cannabinoids that have been isolated to date, these two are undoubtedly the most well-known and, the most well researched. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are both naturally occurring compounds found in plants in the cannabis genus.  Known as phytocannabinoids, these compounds interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the endocannabinoid system present in all mammalian species.

CBD was first isolated in 1940 whilst THC was isolated in 1964 by the preeminent cannabis scientist Raphael Mechoulam. At the most fundamental level, THC and CBD are different because of their differing physiological effects. CBD is non-psychotropic and therefore does not illicit a “high” whereas THC is psychotropic and is the only known cannabis-derived compound to illicit a “high”. Here we look at some of the key differences, and similarities, between CBD and THC.

The structures of THC vs CBD

The structural formulas of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) including the location of the cyclic ring in THC and the hydroxyl group in CBD.

Figure 1. The structural formulas of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).

THC and CBD are just two compounds from a family of around 113 bi- and tri-cyclic compounds cannabinoid compounds found naturally in cannabis. Both CBD and THC share the exact same molecular formula, C21H30O2, containing twenty-one atoms of carbon, thirty of hydrogen and two of oxygen. Their molecular mass is practically identical with THC and CBD having masses of 314.469 g/mol 314.464 g/mol, respectively.

The biosynthesis of THC and CBD from CBGA via their acidic forms THCA and CBDA.

Figure 2. The biosynthesis of THC and CBD from CBGA.

The biosynthesis of THC and CBD in cannabis also follows a very similar pathway. Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the precursor to all natural cannabinoids, is cyclized into tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) by THCA and CBDA synthase, respectively. The final products of THC and CBD are formed via decarboxylation of these acidic forms.  Structurally, however, there is one important difference. Where THC contains a cyclic ring (see Figure 1), CBD contains a hydroxyl group. It is this seemingly small difference in molecular structure that gives the two compounds entirely different pharmacological properties.

The chemical properties of THC vs CBD

As with many of the cannabinoids, THC and CBD have low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents, particularly lipids and alcohols. Both THC and CBD are present in cannabis in a mixture of acidic forms, which are readily de-carboxylated and chemically altered upon heating, important when you consider that smoking cannabis is the most common form of consumption. THC is also well known for its ability to bind to glass and plastic. Therefore, THC preparations are typically stored in basic or organic solvents in amber silicate glassware to avoid loss, especially during analytical testing procedures.

The physiological effects of CBD vs THC

As a potent partial agonist of CB1, THC is able to bind to and stimulate the receptor. As a negative of allosteric modulator of CB1, CBD indirectly alters the shape of the CB1 receptor.

Figure 3. Left: THC is a potent partial agonist of CB1. It is this stimulation which leads to the major psychotropic effects of cannabis consumption. Right: CBD is a negative allosteric modulator of CB1 so it changes the shape of the CB1 receptor weakening its ability bind to THC.

CB1 is a G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptor located primarily in the central and peripheral nervous system with a particularly high abundance in the brain. As part of the endocannabinoid system it is activated by the endogenous neurotransmitters, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, as well as other naturally occurring compounds including the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis. As a potent partialagonist of CB1, THC stimulates the CB1 receptor leading to the psychotropic effects experienced when consuming cannabis. CBD on the other hand, is classified as a negative allosteric modulator of CB1, meaning it effectively alters the shape of the CB1 receptor. This change makes it more difficult for CB1 agonists, like THC and other endogenous CB1 agonists, to stimulate the receptor. The fact that CBD does not bind to, or stimulate, CB1 is also the reason it does not produce the psychotropic effects associated with THC.

How CBD vs THC interact with each other

Through its interactions with the CB1 receptor, CBD is thought to modulate the psychotropic effects of THC by inhibiting its ability to bind to and stimulate the receptor. Which is why people don’t feel as “high” when using CBD-rich cannabis compared to when they consume products high in THC. CBD is able to reduce some of the negative effects of THC by decreasing anxiety, paranoia and the short-term memory impairment often experienced when consuming cannabis. Evidence suggests that a CBD-rich product with little THC can in fact convey therapeutic benefits without having a euphoric or dysphoric effect.

Despite the evidence of positive interactions between CBD and THC, there is still a big drive for THC and CBD only medicines. In broad terms, this reflects the consensus of the traditional pharmaceutical industry that a drug with a single active ingredient is easier to develop, test, produce, prescribe and regulate. As evidence for the beneficial effects of combining cannabinoids in medicine increases this may change. Particularly with the growth in popularity of the concept of whole plant medicine. In brief, advocates of whole plant medicine argue that cannabis should be used in the most natural form possible as the various cannabinoids and other active compounds in cannabis have a combinatorial effect, also known as the entourage effect.

The medical Uses of CBD vs THC

Medical uses of CBD  Medical uses of THC
Anti-seizure Analgesic
Anti-inflammatory Anti-nauseant
Analgesic Appetite stimulant
Anti-tumor effects Reduces glaucoma symptoms
Anti-psychotic Sleep aid
Inflammatory bowel disease Anti-anxiety
Depression Muscular spasticity

The use of cannabis as a medicinal plant dates back thousands of years across cultures around the world.  However, due to relatively modern restrictions and regulations, the research into the use of cannabis as a medicine in the modern world has been severely limited. As the legalization and decimalization of cannabis increase around the world, the ability to research its potential uses is opening up.

In October 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a pre-review report which provides the most up to date summation of the current and potential clinical uses of CBD. Unequivocal evidence now supports the use of CBD in the treatment for at least some forms of epilepsy including Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder that is associated with drug-resistant seizures and a high mortality rate. Other indications are consistent with its neuroprotective, antiepileptic, hypoxia-ischemia, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-asthmatic, and antitumor properties. These indications are based on limited clinical and pre-clinical evidence as well as swathes of anecdotal evidence. Sufferers of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease as well as multiple sclerosis, psychosis, anxiety, depression, cancer and many more could all benefit from treatment with CBD according to the WHO.

Like CBD, there exists a long list of potential clinical uses of THC. To date, the FDA has approved only two drugs containing THC and a synthetic cannabinoid that emulates the activity of THC. Dronabinol is a gelatine capsule containing THC which is administered orally to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy as well as weight loss and poor appetite in patients with AIDS. Nabilone contains a synthetic version of THC and is approved for the treatment of the nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy when other drugs have not worked. Again, as with CBD, a huge range of scientific and anecdotal evidence supports the use of THC as a medicine. Potential usesinclude the treatment of neuropathic pain, pain caused by injury or accident, depression, sleep disorders, anxiety and many more.

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