by Robert Eidus, December 30, 2018 –

Hemp oil is fake medicine, the snake oil of the modern era, and it is overwhelming my community of Asheville, NC.

Hemp oil vendors promise a pure product that will have all kinds of healing effects, but this is just the start of the false statements and outright lies associated with this fake medicine. There is no way for consumers to know what is really inside the hemp oil bottle, unless laboratory tests have been performed by a third party and the results have been printed on the product. In addition, hemp oil can contain harmful added substances that can cause harm, such as heavy metals and chemical residues, resulting in headaches and other health problems. Though many people claim to experience healing from CBD oil, there is no evidence that this is due to anything other than the placebo effect. The brain, not the medicine, is doing the healing.

One of the biggest points of confusion is the belief that hemp oil is the same as cannabis oil and can heal in the same way. Nothing could be farther than the truth. Though both hemp and cannabis come from the Cannabis sativa plant, the strains of C. sativa used for hemp oil have been bred for industrial uses, not human consumption. Industrial hemp is a toxic plant that is grown and processed with toxic chemicals to make products like rope, fiber, paper, and building materials. Most importantly, hemp is a bio-accumulator, which means that it draws toxins like heavy metals from the soil which then remain in the plant after it has been harvested. “That’s a great feature for restoring a poisoned ecosystem, but it is not great for making ingestible medicinal concentrates,” says Martin A. Lee in Project CBD: CBD Users Manual.

The second major confusion comes from the push by Big Pharma for single-molecule compounds over whole-plant synergies. This benefits pharmaceutical companies because isolated molecules can be easily patented. Again, this builds on misinformation and lies. Cannabis works through the “entourage effect,” which means that multiple compounds found naturally in the plant—in particular, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)—work together within the human body to have effects that cannot be achieved by any one of these compounds alone. For a cannabis product to have medicinal effects, there is a minimum threshold of each compound that must be reached. CBD needs THC to be fully activated, so if you buy CBD by itself you are paying for fake medicine.

The third area for confusion is in the way that hemp oil products report the CBD concentration in milliliters. This is a serious mistake for this plant, since numerous factors are necessary to determine how much medicine any cannabis product contains and how much an individual needs to take.It is important to at least (1) have a complete taxonomic report with each product by batch, especially the THC and CBD percentage by dry weight, (2) know the particular cannabis strain and how it relates to your illness, (3) know the appropriate quantity to be ingested by consulting with a health care practitioner, (4) know the method of extraction, as the different types of organic extraction produce different strengths, and (5) know the best time of day to take medicine, for those sensitive to THC. Most importantly, the whole process of growing and extracting the cannabis product needs to be organic if it to be real medicine.

For a more accurate understanding of this complex plant, I recommend checking out Martin A. Lee’s history of Cannabis sativa in the book Smoke Signals (2012). According to Lee, Cannabis sativa was included in the US Pharmacopoeia at the beginning of the 1900, which recognized that the plant had been used for thousands of years for epileptic children. Lee also writes that 90% of the Cannabis sativa around the globe contains THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio, and medicine for thousands of years was based on this ratio of constituents. It was not until after 1960, when THC was discovered in Israel, and the 1990s, when CBD was discovered in Spain, that plant breeders began to cultivate only female flowers, creating strains that produce much stronger medicine due to much higher levels of either THC or CBD. High-quality cannabis for medicine is grown using pots (indoors) or breathable fabric (outdoors) to control what these bio-accumulator plants ingest.

CBD and THC are both classified by the United States government’s Drug Enforcement Administration as a dangerous Schedule 1 substance and is discussed in the Farm Bill of 2018. However, in 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a specific CBD-containing medication, which was then listed under the less-restrictive Schedule 5 by the DEA. Do not be fooled that this is medicine: this fake medicine is a single-molecule compound produced by Big Pharma. Ask for scientific studies.

In 2014, North Carolina passed the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act (“Hemp Oil Act”), which allowed for epileptic children who are not responding to conventional treatments to use CBD oil medicinally. Patients must be diagnosed by a doctor at one of four university-affiliated hospitals and the product must be produced in a licensed NC pharmacy with lab testing results attached to each bottle showing that the product contains at least 10% CBD and no more than 0.9% THC. However, CBD oil sold in North Carolina does not display the lab results required by this program. That means that in North Carolina, CBD oil is technically legal, but qualifying products are not actually available. I would also contend that allowing only epileptic children to get Cannabis oil is not sufficient, since there are many other people who have a need for this medicine in North Carolina. Making medicinal cannabis available in North Carolina with laboratory testing will be the only way to get rid of fake medicine in my community.

Finally, we should also pay attention to the many available herbs, supplements, and over-the-counter medications that address the same ailments that people take CBD for, including anxiety, sleeplessness, and minor pain relief. A knowledgeable herbalist or holistic medical practitioner can point people toward other medicines that can heal these problems for a fraction of the cost—and a fraction of the risk—of hemp oil fake medicine.