The Impact Hemp Has Made on the Wellness Industry
by Elizabeth Denton
If it seems like every day there’s a new hemp-derived beauty or wellness product, it’s because there is. The industry is booming. But understanding the differences between hemp and marijuana, and between these botanical varieties of cannabis and CBD, can be daunting. And the laws regulating these plants and their products, which vary from state to state, add another level of complexity. Here, we take a closer look to help you decide what products are best for you.
What Is Hemp?
First of all, it’s important to define hemp in contrast to marijuana. Basically, hemp and marijuana are two varieties of the same plant, Cannabis sativa. But the differences between them outweigh their similarities. Hemp contains trace amounts (less than 0.3 percent) of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol—the compound that gets you high. Marijuana can contain as much as 20 to 30 percent THC by weight and is highly psychoactive.
So, how does CBD come into play here? Cannabidiol is one of the main compounds found in the hemp variety of Cannabis sativa. Hemp, high in CBD, is not considered a drug, whereas marijuana which contains less CBD is considered a drug and still classified as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law. Hemp has traditionally been used to make clothes, supplements and food products, such as hemp milk.
Is Hemp CBD Legal?
In many states, yes. Federally speaking, no. In December 2018 the U.S. Congress passed the Farm Bill, which legalized hemp, in part to help boost the economy, although some restrictions on the plant do remain in force. Under the bill, the crop is an “agricultural commodity.” More farmers can now legally grow industrial hemp, and the bill allows its use in even more products, including in the wellness industry. It opens up more research possibilities, too. Products derived from hemp already had an estimated retail value of $820 million in 2017, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.
The Food and Drug Administration is watching these developments closely. It quickly released a memo after the Farm Bill was passed. The FDA promised to regulate hemp and CBD oil. The agency will be on the lookout for unproven medical claims and products that contain more than 0.3 percent of THC. The Farm Bill has not changed the legal status of marijuana on the federal level, however, where it remains illegal. But 10 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 33 have legalized medical marijuana.
What’s Next for Hemp?
The legalization of hemp has made it easier for the wellness industry to improve its offerings. Erica McBride, executive director of the National Hemp Association, told NBC News that the Farm Bill “will make hemp explode.” That’s great news for consumers looking for a safe, legal way to consume hemp products and, at least in many states, CBD. While brands can’t promise benefits without FDA approval, that won’t—and shouldn’t—stop consumers from experimenting to find out which products work best for them.
When you’re looking for hemp-infused wellness products, stick with brands and companies you can trust. Look for products that feature transparency about ingredients and potencies. Hemp and CBD have proven anti-inflammatory properties, so take the time to test it out for aches and pains, PMS, relaxation and so much more. You might just find something that’ll improve your life.
Elizabeth Denton is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, and consultant.