From former Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee Jr. opening a hemp kiosk recently at Mayfair Mall to the recent announcement of a Waukesha company, Connoils, expanding its plant that makes hemp and other nutritional oils, hemp has been in the news recently.
The selling of hemp is sometimes controversial, given that it is often associated with marijuana. Hemp is a plant that is in the cannabis family of plants.The difference is hemp doesn’t have the same level of THC as marijuana has, and it is THC that gives pot its mind-altering power.
But unlike marijuana, hemp is particularly cultivated to have low levels of THC.
Hemp has been used for many things, including ropes, sails and cloth, according to Cecilia Hillard is a professor and director of the Neuroscience Research Center for the Medical College of Wisconsin. She has her PhD in pharmacology and toxicology and has studied cannabis with animal based research.
Hemp oil is an extract from the stalks and leaves of the hemp plant. Hemp-seed oil comes only from hemp seeds.
“It must have a low THC content to be legal. So the idea is that it has the chemicals from the plant that have beneficial effects without the issue of also having THC,” said Hillard.
Here are six things you might be wondering about hemp:
1. Who can grow it?
Wisconsin’s industrial hemp program, which is administered by Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, allows Wisconsin farmers to grow and sell industrial hemp, as long as they obtain a permit and abide by certain DATCP requirements. Farmers who participate in this program and follow the rules are exempt from criminal prosecution, and products made from industrial hemp, including CBD, are lawful.
In a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced on May 10 that farmers in the state who grow industrial hemp can produce CBD oil from it.
CBD oil extracted from hemp under provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill and Wisconsin Act 100 must have less than 0.3 percent THC. Wisconsin retailers who sell CBD oil are required to keep documentation that will aid DATCP in researching the CBD oil market
2. Why the controversy?
Stacy Peterson is CEO of Connoils in Waukesha — a global manufacturer and distributor of natural, organic and nutritional Internally stabilized bulk oils, oil powders, softgels and specialty ingredients — said the controversy is simply a complete lack of education. She said people refer to hemp in the same realm as cannabis and marijuana, giving a negative connotation to hemp.
Peterson recommends people interested in learning about hemp read “The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy,”
by Jack Herer.
Hillard said the controversy stems from hemp coming from the same plant family as the cannabis that is used to make marijuana.
“It has been ‘caught’ in the regulations that made high-THC content cannabis illegal,” she said.
Hillard added it is difficult to tell the difference without sophisticated tests that can detect THC. She suspects it was likely just easier long ago to make all plants in this family illegal.
3. Does it have the same effect as pot?
Licensed farmers have to be careful when growing hemp; as male and female seeds need to be separated, according to Peterson. Mixing them together can increase the THC level in the plants. Hemp grows like a weed and requires not that much maintenance.
Peterson said crops are tested to ensure THC level are less than 0.3 percent. If the crops test over that level, the state will ask you to retest it. After the second try, if the crops are over the legal amount the crop has to be destroyed.
Hemp can be used through various ways: smoking; consuming in edibles, such as brownies, cookies or candy bars; and extracted oils.
As long as the THC level is low in the hemp, a person can not get high off of it.
“You could smoke a telephone of it and it is not going to psychoactive affect your brain all,” Peterson said.
5. Is all hemp the same?
People need to be aware that hemp oil is not a standardized product or name so the chemical components could be different from batch to batch, according to Hillard. Sometimes it is used to refer to oils that are high in THC content. “It is really important to know what is in the product,” she said.
It is really important to know what is in the product. Hillard explained that there are some side effects of using it, including interference with some medicines and some gastrointestinal intestine problems.
Peterson agreed consumers need to take precaution as there are “snake” or fake CBD oil people are hawking. Her company’s products are third-party tested and have a certificate analysis to confirm what the company says is in the oils. She encourages anyone purchasing CBD oil to ask to see a certificate of analysis to see how much CBD oil is in the product.
“It is unfortunate there are people out there who are selling it as CBD. Then it doesn’t work, then people think oh CBD oil doesn’t work,” Peterson said.
Peterson recommends people with concerns over using CBD oil to talk with their doctor before trying it.
6. Benefits of hemp?
Hemp or CBD oil is believed to have numerous benefits in the form of managing chronic pain, promoting sleep and thereby reducing depression and anxiety.
Hillard previously said in an Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about former Green Bay Packer Cullen Jenkins’ use of hemp to control pain that research supports positive effects such as a greater amount of sleep and quality of sleep, which can improve everything from anxiety and depression to cognitive ability and immune system.
Cannabis is different than opiate drugs like Vicodin, Oxycodone, which are better at treating acute pain, she said.
Hillard said there are many claims of beneficial effects of hemp oil, but little research has been done using it.
“Since the research is not there, I will not comment further on any potential benefits,” said Hillard.
Peterson prefaces her statement on benefits of hemp by stating the FDA hasn’t agreed with these statements and studies haven’t completely been derived from it.
“If you think about a lot of the ailments people have, they stem from inflammation,” said Peterson.
Connoils has noticed success in helping reduce anxiety in autistic individuals. She had found CBD oil to work well for autistic children who have seizures or those with epilepsy,” Peterson said
Peterson explained autistic individuals have inflammation of the gut and the pain in their gut causes the anxiety, especially when mixed with overstimulating social factors. Peterson the CBD oil helps with the inflammation in their gut and reduces the anxiety and seizures.
She has clients who use the company’s CBD oils for a variety of ailments, such as migraines.
Peterson uses CBD oil personally for bone spurs on her heels. She explained she doesn’t put the oil on her feet, but under her tongue so it is absorbed in her bloodstream.
Taking a few droplets of oil doesn’t show results automatically, according to Peterson. The dosage depends on the concentration in the bottle and product.
Peterson said it is not an immediate cure as improvements are seen in about three to five days. “Over time people will see the benefits and if they stop taking the CBD oil and the pain comes back, then they know it was working,” she said.
Results vary on the individual and the person’s health, according to Peterson.
“In my opinion, this is a miracle drug that needs to be evaluated and explored even further. There are so many benefits people could be taking advantage of and helping them in their lives,” Peterson said.
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