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Are Hemp-Derived CBD Products a Legal Alternative for Patients Without Access?

CBD, or cannabidiol, has become a popular topic lately, but despite CBD attracting attention over the past decade for its medicinal properties, patient access didn’t grow accordingly. At present, CBD products derived from marijuana are only available in medical cannabis states, leaving thousands of patients without access to products that could help alleviate a multitude of symptoms. CBD products extracted from industrial hemp, however, are a different matter entirely. 

If you know anything about hemp, chances are you’ve heard conflicting reports regarding its legality. According to the DEA, marijuana is a product of three specific parts of the cannabis plant: flowering “buds,” leaves, and resin. The remaining parts – stalks and sterilized seeds – are what is considered “hemp.” Hemp, however, is not a term that is recognized under federal law; hence the debate.

The primary distinction that separates these parts of the cannabis plant is THC content, the cannabinoid responsible for psychoactive effects. While marijuana is rich in THC, containing an amount that ranges from 2% to over 20%, hemp has less than 0.3% THC. At such low levels, hemp cannot produce the “high” associated with marijuana. 

Hemp does contain high levels of another important cannabinoid: CBD. Depending on the variety of hemp and the part of the plant used, it typically contains 1-5% CBD, a sufficient quantity for extraction.

Right now, 19 US states allow varying degrees of hemp production for pilot studies, commercial production, or both. Of those, eight have laws that “promote the growth and marketing of industrial hemp.” Outside of these states, industrial hemp cultivation is strictly illegal. Because the US is so restrictive on production, most hemp is produced in the EU (where it’s legal) and imported to the US.

Manufacturers are able to create CBD-rich products from industrial hemp, providing a great service to patients living in states without access. CBD Gum is among the leading distributors of hemp-derived CBD products. The owner of CBD Gum reports that because “the medical need is so high, [we have] seen consistent growth month-over-month both domestically and internationally,” helping patients everywhere access the products they need.

There is some debate regarding whether CBD is effective on its own, but the growth rate of patients purchasing hemp-derived CBD products speaks volumes. We’re happy to see hemp cultivators, manufacturers, and distributors step up to the plate to provide much-needed relief to patients without access.