Before we get into this second installment of our series on THC’s more straight-laced younger brother, we should quickly tackle a related current event. As of press time, Carl’s Junior has just announced that they will be testing a new CBD-infused burger at their Denver location in the coming months. No, this is not The Onion (although, that would be delicious on the burger.) This is a real story, first reported by CNBC. Dubbed the “Rocky Mountain High: Cheesburger Delight,” the fast food chain’s foray into cannabis culture will feature two all-beef patties, pickled jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, waffle fries and their signature Santa Fe Sauce with a new twist: 5mg of CBD. And of course, the menu price is set at $4.20. We see what you did there, Carl’s Jr. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
Granted, adding CBD to a burger from Carl’s Jr. is arguably as useful as dousing the bathroom with Axe Body Spray after passing a burger from Carl’s Jr. But what is important to gather from this is CBD isn’t just for your friends who decorate their houses with Grateful Dead tapestries anymore. It’s mainstream, and though it still may be legally ambiguous, it’s not going anywhere.
Let’s get back to the matter at hand. In our last installment, we concluded to a degree of relative certainty that CBD, when produced properly, has shown incredible efficacy in aiding the healing process of the skin. But not all CBD products are created equally and finding the companies who are doing it right can be as daunting as finding your girlfriend’s missing earring after a day at the beach. Luckily, we also have a publication for the cannabis space and naturally, have been following the topic for several years. Here’s what you need to know.
Is it Legal?
Mostly yes, but it’s complicated. Per the Agricultural Act of 2018, industrial hemp is now legal to grow in the U.S. Equally important was the Agricultural Act of 2014, which changed the definition of the plant itself from the previous designation of the flowerless plants grown for rope to any cannabis plant that is under 0.3% THC. That means that the medicine-rich flowering plants are now allowed, so long as they meet the aforementioned threshold. Moreover, Congress has made it clear through a recent amicus brief (1) that they specifically legalized hemp in part to allow experimentation with CBD products. However, the FDA isn’t yet on board and their memos on the topic complicate the situation dramatically. There is also the question of state and local statutes—and those are about as diverse as they can be and are changing every day. It’s important to do your homework and know the laws of your particular region. But you run a tattoo shop, so that’s really nothing new for you.
Whole plant is better.
When choosing your brand of CBD, whether oral or topical applications, never settle for anything less than full spectrum, otherwise known as a full plant extract. Skip past the stuff labeled “broad spectrum.” That’s just a marketing gimmick. Avoid isolates altogether. They’re basically useless. You don’t just want CBD; you want all the essential compounds of the plant, because they work best when they work together. This is commonly known as the “entourage effect.”
Basically, the compounds, both the terpenes and the cannabinoids, work together synergistically. Remove one compound, and you’ve diminished the effects of the others. This really applies to any plant with beneficial properties and is why you’re better off eating an orange than popping a Vitamin C capsule.
But don’t just trust the label. There are plenty of vultures who are wise to the terms and slap the “full spectrum” label on their product illegitimately, knowing there’s nobody policing them. Read reviews, talk to the company, and demand lab reports. Own the process.
Sourcing: plant type and geography.
Knowing where and how the source plant was cultivated is essential. Since we still can’t import the flowering portion of the plant, the best CBD products will be those made here in the U.S., under the umbrella of the Farm Bill. Even if it’s U.S. grown, though, you should still verify that the brand you’re carrying is utilizing flowering, medicinal hemp plants. Otherwise, they’re pulling trace amounts from the stalks and stems of hemp grown for rope, which requires copious amounts of toxic industrial solvents. That’s not how medicine is made.
Whether the FDA approves of CBD as food or medicine or not, any company worth a damn will still follow all guidelines for labeling and manufacturing. Can you verify that the product you carry was produced in a CGMP facility and tested in ISO 9000 labs? Does the label have a supplement panel? What claims is the company making? If the literature or labeling makes any drug claims (e.g., “cures cancer” or “relieves pain”), drop them like a bad habit. The FDA has very strict guidelines about what a company can and can’t say. If your brand can’t even follow those, it’s likely they’re cutting other corners too.
Special thanks to Stavros, founder and CEO of Hempzilla CBD, for taking the time to consult for this article, as well as allowing us to drill him on the practices of his company. His answers passed with flying colors and we look forward to taking a closer look at the products his company offers, especially their CBD-infused tattoo cream.
(1) Amicus Brief: No. 17-70162 Hemp Industry Association vs. Drug Enforcement Agency, P. 17