THE QUESTION OF CANNABIS
FEBRUARY 28, 2019 ROB STREISFELD, NMD
Cannabis. It’s a plant. It’s a medicine. It’s an opportunity. It’s a conundrum.
The Cannabis movement as a whole has made noteworthy progress, picking up significant momentum over the last few years. Currently, 33 of the 50 States have passed some sort of legalization, and several other states will be voting soon on legalizing or expanding their Cannabis laws. There are also several bills on the Federal level to legalize and/or decriminalize this plant, looking to end nearly a century of unwarranted prohibition. The recent passing of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial/agricultural hemp, with hemp seed oil and protein receiving GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) recognition from the FDA. These are historic events, helping to open the door a bit wider to a new age of Cannabis and Cannabis products in the U.S.A.
With the passing of the Farm Bill, it appears that society in general, and the Natural Products/Food industry specifically, has widened its acceptance of this plant and this compound. Less than five years ago CBD was relatively unknown, just starting to garner attention in the medical Cannabis communities. When a couple of companies introduced hemp-derived CBD as a safe and natural ingredient to the industry, warnings were quickly sent out to exhibitors, and products marketed with CBD were banned.
Oh, have times changed. Next week, as the biggest event in the Natural Products industry, Expo West, fills the Anaheim Convention Center once again, hemp and CBD (Cannabidiol) are featured among the hottest topics and emerging categories. For the second year at Expo West, a full-day summit with multiple panels and presenters will focus on this important subject. I am honored to be among the selected speakers, and also look forward to learning from, and sharing with other industry leaders.
There are so many aspects to consider, ie regulatory/legal, environmental/sustainability, banking/merchant processing, manufacturing and quality control, etc. There will information for manufacturers, retail buyers and consumers, focusing on things such as lab testing, bio-availability, dosage recommendations, labeling requirements and more.
This year looks to have a record number of new products featuring CBD from both start-ups and existing brands. While I do believe in the numerous benefits of Cannabidiol, there are many issues which still need to be addressed when incorporating CBD into dietary supplements, foods, beverages and cosmeceuticals. The FDA will look to set guidelines which may impact some brands in a positive way, while potentially putting others out of business. Some products choose to use an isolated form of CBD, while others incorporate a more broad-spectrum extract containing an array of naturally occurring compounds found in the plant (phytocannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, etc.) along with CBD. Beverages will look to include tasteless, water-soluble CBD into formulations, while ingestible products are integrating cutting-edge science to enhance bioavailability. Oh, and don’t forget products for the family pets either.
The excitement around this ingredient is undeniable, but some industry veterans like myself are already sharing concerns of market saturation happening sooner than typical. The tidal wave of new products adding CBD as a functional ingredient may negatively impact some companies with high expectations for long-term profit. Increasing supply will hopefully keep up with, but not overwhelm, consumer demand. Additionally, the FDA’s regulations and the growing interest from Big Pharma, Big Alcohol, and other well-funded industries looking to enter the CBD category will also play a role in the global CBD market.
From the soil to the shelf, we are just starting to understand and more fully appreciate the nutritive and health benefiting properties of Cannabis, and it’s over 500 compounds. Personally, I admit to having a bias, which includes an affection for high quality, minimally processed/unadulterated, whole food/plant products which align as much as possible with the healing power of Nature. I also believe that everyone should have the right to grow a limited number of plants for personal use, identifying Cannabis more as a vegetable or medicinal/culinary herb grown in your backyard garden. That being said, until the time comes when this plant is truly free, I am grateful for the opportunity to support this growing industry at the upcoming Natural Products Hemp and CBD Summit during Expo West.
For more insight into my experience and perspective with regard to Cannabis, I’ve shared a related chapter from my new book, The Cannabis Conundrum.
All the best in health & happiness,