Hemp farm­ers, CBD pro­duc­ers hope­ful for in­dus­try boom

The Saline Courier Weekend - - NEWS - As­so­ci­ated Press

LIT­TLE ROCK— Hemp and CBD pro­duc­ers are hope­ful about the fu­ture of the in­dus­try in Arkansas.

The first batch of CBD has been pro­cessed from the first le­gal hemp har­vest in the state, the Arkansas Demo­crat-gazette re­ported.

Hemp is a mem­ber of the cannabis fam­ily but with low lev­els of THC, the com­pound that gets pot users high. Congress le­gal­ized hemp in De­cem­ber. CBD is a chem­i­cal com­pound de­rived from cannabis plants and users say it can ease pain, anx­i­ety, epilepsy, nau­sea and hang­overs. It doesn’t cause a high and is of­ten sold as a di­etary sup­ple­ment. Many see it as a way to bet­ter health.

Le­jen Lot­spe­ich is the chief sci­en­tific of­fi­cer of New Age Hemp, Arkansas’ first op­er­at­ing hemp pro­ces­sor.

“You can smoke as much hemp as you want to try and get high, but all you’re go­ing to get is a headache,” Lot­spe­ich said.

Nick Lan­ders, CEO of New Age Hemp and a former phar­ma­cist, tried CBD as an al­ter­na­tive treat­ment for his back pain. It worked so well that he stopped tak­ing his pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion, he said.

“I’m a guinea pig be­cause I’m not go­ing to put a prod­uct on the mar­ket that I haven’t tried my­self,” Lan­ders said.

Lan­ders said he wished that he’d been able to rec­om­mend CBD prod­ucts to pa­tients who were pre­scribed and later be­came ad­dicted to opioids.

Kelly Car­ney is owner of North Pu­laski Farms, a small grower of or­ganic fruits and veg­eta­bles. He said he got a li­cense to grow hemp be­cause he saw it as an op­por­tu­nity to sup­ple­ment his farm in­come, which has seen mar­gins thin.

“I think for a small farmer, there is a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to make some money since (hemp) is so new,” he said.

But con­sumers can face problems be­cause CBD prod­ucts are largely un­reg­u­lated. State over­sight of pro­cessed CBD prod­ucts stops at en­sur­ing THC lev­els don’t ex­ceed 0.3%.

A 2017 Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia study found that al­most 70% of CBD prod­ucts were in­ac­cu­rately la­beled, claim­ing CBD lev­els that didn’t match with lab analy­ses.

The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion is now as­sess­ing how it should reg­u­late CBD. The FDA also is tak­ing pub­lic com­ments on­line un­til July 2.

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