Hemp Flower and Full Spectrum Hemp Oil are the Future of CBD

The FDA is increasingly cracking down on CBD products in the marketplace. New rules are expected later in 2020 and there has been a lot of speculation about what might be banned. The FDA is charged with (among other things) protecting the public from unsafe foods and drugs. They also have responsibility for regulating “dietary supplements.” They have been active in warning companies that make health claims when marketing CBD, and many companies use the familiar “dietary supplement” label when listing how much CBD is in their products.

Pill-a-day style hemp flowersHemp flower is an agricultural product; and is obviously not a dietary supplement. It closely resembles marijuana, and a few states have even banned “smokable hemp” because it is hard to distinguish it from marijuana. It remains legal in most states, and it is one of the least expensive ways to get CBD and other cannabinoids into your system. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal federally, and the FDA does not appear to have jurisdiction over the sale of agricultural products such as hemp flower.

In 2020 most hemp flower is CBD-dominant, with CBD being the primary cannabinoid present. CBG-dominant flower is newer and less is known about it and its effects.  Studies thus far have found anti-cancer and anti-microbial benefits.  Research is ongoing. If highly-processed CBG products become popular the FDA may step in and regulate them too. CBG flower and CBG-dominant full-spectrum hemp oil will be harder to regulate.

Full spectrum hemp oil is only one step removed from the hemp plant. Hemp oil is created when hemp is processed in such a way that the alcohol and/or oil soluable components are extracted from the plant. These are then dissolved in a neutral oil (such as MCT oil) and they resulting “hemp oil” is sold in small bottles. This oil generally contains CBD if the hemp strain is a high-CBD hemp strain. If the hemp strain is a high CBG hemp strain then the resulting hemp oil will be an oil that is high in CBG instead.

The FDA gets involved based on the labeling of products such as CBD oil. If the label includes instructions for taking the product by mouth, then the FDA likely has reason to view it as a dietary supplement, a medication, or a food product. If the label is mute on the use of the oil, then the FDA may not have any reason to regulate the sale of the product.

Those of us living in the U.S. are currently awaiting the FDA’s new regulations. While you wait, consider trying hemp flower. Most people seem to be smoking it like marijuana, but vaping is safer. (Vaping the dry herb is much safer than vaping a commercial liquid product.) You can also heat it and eat it. The cost per milligram of CBD is much lower in the raw product and you have a better chance of getting the “entourage effect.”

New Virginia Field Test Distinguishes CBD-dominant Hemp from THC-dominant Marijuana

Virginia is one of the first states that is able to tell hemp from marijuana in the field. The Virginia Department of Forensic Science purchased 16,150 kits that accomplish this and is distributing them to law enforcement agencies in the state.  The officer in the field will first use the existing test, the “Duquenois-Levine field test”, to determine if suspect plant material is actually cannabis. (Hemp and marijuana are two different forms of cannabis.) The new test will then be used to determine whether the cannabis is hemp or marijuana.  The video below was produced to instruct local law enforcement agencies in the process.

Interestingly, North Carolina has taken a totally different approach to the problem of distinguishing hemp from marijuana.  They simply outlawed “smokable hemp.”  The new North Carolina law could go into effect in December of 2020.  Hemp was made federally legal with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.  Virginia and North Carolina have diverged politically in recent years, and this different approach to a Federally legal plant highlights these differences.

These new test kits are not perfect.  There is no way to tell what will happen if they test the new CBG hemp flower (which contains no CBD and a tiny amount of THC). There is no test for CBG “plant material.”  Hemp may be a moving target as new cannabinoids are targeted by seed companies, but the Virginia test kits are a step forward – especially compared to North Carolina’s approach. If prohibition is overturned this may be a moot point in the future.

What is CBG Hemp Flower?

Beginning with the 2019 Fall harvest the online market has seen a new type of Cannabis for sale. CBG (Cannabigerol) hemp flower refers to the female flowers of hemp plants that are bred to produce primarily CBG rather than CBD.  The flowers actually contain CBGA – the acid form of CBG (just as THC flowers contain mostly THCA and CBD flowers contain mostly CBDA). Heat is needed to convert these acid forms of the cannabinoids to their bioavailable forms (without the A).  Most people know about marijuana flower, often called bud. CBD hemp flower is also becoming popular since the 2018 farm bill legalized it. The difference between these plants has to do with the dominant cannabinoid that they produce. Marijuana flower is highest in THC, while CBD hemp flower is highest in CBD.  The new flower is highest in CBG.

Young Hemp FlowerCBG is sometimes referred to as the “stem cell” cannabinoid.  Cannabis plants produce CBGA relatively early in their lifespan and much of it is converted to THCA and CBDA as the plant matures. Plant scientists have bred new strains of cannabis where this conversion has been blocked. Flowers from these plants are high in CBG once the plant material has been heated (decarbed).

When using cannabis medically the goal is to consume enough to get symptom relief without becoming intoxicated or impaired. THC flowers (marijuana), when consumed in enough quantity, make you high (intoxicated). CBD flowers relax you without making you high. CBG hemp flowers are drier than the more traditional CBD flowers and they produce different effects, which are difficult to describe.  If THC gives you a “head high” and CBD gives you a “body buzz,”  then CBG might be said to give you a “mind-body buzz”.  Some users report that CBG flowers enhance the effects of CBD when both are consumed together.  These CBG flowers are so new (as of this post in November 2019) that there is no real consensus as to their effects. Some early users of CBG flower report a clear-headed sense of relaxation without the sedation that accompanies some CBD flowers, but others do report sedation. As with all cannabis, the terpene profiles may also influence the effects. CBG itself is known to fight some forms of cancer, to reduce intraocular pressure, and to fight some infections.

I believe we are still in the early days of understanding these natural healing substances. Hemp that is high in other cannabinoids may be right around the corner.  Innovative companies like PotLuckExpo and Kanabia are already offering hemp-based products featuring exotic natural cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, and THC-V.  I have updated the shopping section to include note of places to buy GBG Flower Online.

We also have information on how to decarb CBD hemp flower.

The Easiest Cannabis Edibles

If you are interested in edibles there is one really easy way to get started. The easiest edibles are “firecrackers.”  These consist of graham crackers, peanut butter and cannabis. Chocolate graham crackers work well, and I’ve also seen recipes that use Nutella instead of peanut butter.  If you are using decarbed hemp cannabis (cannabis with <.3% THC) you can probably start with a level teaspoon of decarbed “trim” or “shake” plant material.  You can also use ground flower, but start with a little less. If you are using high THC cannabis (marijuana) you should definitely start with less, and eat only a small portion of the resulting product – waiting at least an hour to gauge the effects.  (I haven’t personally tried this with high THC cannabis.)

Cover one side of the graham cracker with smooth peanut butter.  Sprinkle the cannabis onto the peanut butter and close the graham cracker carefully.  As long as you decarbed the cannabis first, you are ready to eat!

firecrackers - edible cannabis

A firecracker made with chocolate graham crackers and peanut butter.

If the cannabis is not decarbed then you need to heat the firecracker in an oven or toaster oven for around 20 minutes.   Wrap the little sandwiches in aluminum foil and place in a pre-heated oven. The temperature should be at least 300 degrees but not over 350.

Edibles can take between 1 and 2 hours to reach full effects and the effects last longer than inhaled cannabis.  With CBD you won’t feel much, but possibly a deep feeling of relaxation, sometimes referred to as a “body high.” You may need to experiment with how much plant material to use.  Even decarbed hemp flower contains some THC along with the CBD. It’s possible to become impaired (high) eating firecrackers made with hemp if you use too much.

You can even use ABV (already been vaped) plant material in a firecracker – but you will need to use more of it.  When you vaped your cannabis you heated it, but you probably didn’t evaporate all of the CBD or THC.  Using this ABV material in an edible allows you to get the rest.

 

How to make CBD and CBDA Menthol Salve to relieve aches and pains

It’s easy to make a homemade hemp salve to help soothe your achy joints.  I use it at night for arthritis pain in my hands.  I made this batch with hemp flower that I ordered last year when it first came on the market.  I bought a lot more than I needed and I mixed a little over an ounce together.  I decarbed 3/4 of the total in order to convert the CBDA to CBD.  I left the remaining 1/4 “raw” so that the salve contained some CBDA as well as CBD. While CBDA has not been as widely studied as CBD, there is evidence that it is a COX2 inhibitor (like Celebrex).  These substances are a subclass of NSAIDs – non-steroidal antiinflammatories. – which are used to treat arthritis.

Homemade help salve to help aches and pains.

Homemade hemp salve to help relieve aches and pains.

The first step is to infuse some coconut oil with the CBD and CBDA. Infused coconut oil is especially easy to make with a Magical Butter machine or an Infusium 420, but there are also recipes that use a crock pot.   If you are using one of the machines you simply load in 8-12 ounces of coconut oil (which is semi-solid at room temperature) and an ounce or more of plant material (and optionally a small amount of lecithin). Run the machine through a cycle, using either the oil button or the butter button.  You strain the resulting warmed liquid oil and pour it back into the jar.

If you let this sit at room temperature it will harden again.  You can actually use it in edibles as well as in salve. To make the salve from the infused coconut oil follow the following instructions:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup infused coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup beeswax (or shea butter or cocoa butter)
  • 1 TSP menthol crystals
  • Other essential oils as desired.  Some to consider are calendula, lavender, arnica, and tea tree oils.

In a double boiler or a pan set on top of a pot with simmering water, melt infused coconut oil. (I set the jar of infused coconut oil into a pyrex bowl and added almost-boiling water from a tea kettle to melt the oil.)

Add olive oil to the infused coconut oil. (This is said to help create a smoother finished product and improves absorption.) Break-up the beeswax or heat it so that it dissolves in the coconut oil.  (The beeswax is to reduce greasiness.) It can take a long time for the beeswax to dissolve. Remove from heat and add the menthol and the essential oils. Stir or whip the mixture until a smooth texture is achieved. Place in cosmetics containers and cool completely. (Based on a recipe from the Infusium 420 cookbook.)

You can optionally add some powdered CBD isolate to the salve to boost the CBD content. I did the math estimating that 75% of the CBDA from my original plant material made it into the infused coconut oil, and I wanted a stronger finished product. I added 1 gram of CBD isolate powder to the hot mixture and it dissolved readily.

You can, of course, make a similar salve from marijuana and you will have THC and THCA in your salve instead of (or in addition to) CBD and CBDA.  There is good research suggesting that a blend of THC and CBD may relieve pain better than either alone.  Living in an illegal state, my salve is made from hemp.

What makes a good CBD Hemp Flower? A Tale of two Lifters

Starseed Botanicals has arguably some of the best CBD hemp flower on the market. When Hayden Gerson started the company they sold various botanical products. Now they focus on well-cured top shelf hemp flower (the CBD equivalent of marijuana bud). Unlike marijuana bud, hemp flower can be bought with a credit card and shipped to your door. The 2018 Farm Bill made it Federally legal in the United States as long as the delta 9 THC content is under .3%.

HeavyLifter

Heavy Lifter Lab Results

What good is cannabis without the THC?  A growing number of fans are eager to tell you. Visit Reddit’s r/hempflowers forum to read their stories. The CBD provides a quick hit of relaxation without the intoxication of high THC flower. [As of late 2019 CBG Hemp Flower is also available online,]

I ordered an ounce of “Heavy Lifter” CBD flower from Starseed a few weeks ago and they were out.  Instead of letting me know this, they “upgraded” me to their Lifter Private Reserve (PR).  When I looked over the lab tests I saw that Lifter PR had 11% CBD – a little over half of the CBD content of the Heavy Lifter (which had 19% CBD).  Terpene content was also lower. I felt like I had been shortchanged.  I’m vaping hemp flower as an economical way to medicate with CBD, and this company substituted a product with half of the active ingredients.

I contacted Starseed Botanicals and Hayden called me back. He really sang the praises of Lifter PR, telling me about the plot of land that it grew on and the care that was taken to hand trim it and cure it. He stated that it had “strong effects” even though cannabinoid and terpene values were much lower than the Heavy Lifter. (How could this be? I was skeptical.) He told me that a few people had been “upgraded” when their supply of Heavy Lifter ran out temporarily. He shipped me the ounce of Heavy Lifter that I ordered for free and told me to keep the Lifter PR. He suggested that I compare the two.

I did.  Lifter is a strain of high CBD hemp flower from Oregon CBD Seeds.  They describe Lifter this way:

“Our goal was to develop an extremely high oil content hemp plant with dense, weighty flowers. After the initial cross (our Special Sauce mom to a very high content, new world Haze line), we honed in on our target after 3 additional generations of inbreeding and careful selection to remove unwanted chemotypes and phenotypes. The resulting mom carries a farnesene dominant terpene profile, has incredible vegetative vigor and grows like a bush with rock-hard flowers. The resulting cross of SH50 and ERB gives us Lifter (in homage to the famous heirloom tomato, Mortgage Lifter).” – oregoncbdseeds.com

Farnesene has anti-inflammatory and tumor-inhibiting properties. It is found in green apples and tumeric. It has a calming effect and may help suppress spasms.  I have trouble smelling and tasting subtle scents and flavors in cannabis.  I don’t smell any green apple. Most hemp flower smells the same to me.  Tasting notes for Scotch whisky are similar.  I can certainly tell a peaty Islay from a sweeter Highland Scotch, but I don’t get the subtle notes that you read about on the label.

I do notice whether the flower is smooth or rough.  I usually taste a piney flavor in the first few puffs. The Heavy Lifter was a little harsh to vape. It started out fine, but the vapor gave me some dryness and irritation at the back of my throat.  I did feel relaxed and I felt pain relief.  The Lifter Private Reserve was smooth and flavorful.  I did not get any throat irritation.  I felt effects, but they were not a strong as the effects of the Heavy Lifter.

So I guess it boils down to what you are looking for. If you are looking to dose CBD then Heavy Lifter is a good choice. With 19.3% CBD and 23.2% total cannabinoids you are getting 193 milligrams of CBD for each gram of flower. You are also getting 2mg of myrcene and 2mg of beta-Caryophyllene and who knows how much farnesene.  If you are looking for flavor and a smooth smoke or vape then consider the Lifter Private Reserve.  I am trying the two blended together and that seems to be working out for me.

Starseed Botanicals has lowered their prices a bit.  You can get a 15% discount if you use cryptocurrency.  You can also use the coupon code CANNAPHARM to get 15% off.  Like many coupon codes a small amount also supports this site. Please do not post this code on other sites.

The Police can’t tell that your Hemp Flowers aren’t Marijuana – so Be Careful Out There.

Law enforcement has field tests for marijuana that can’t distinguish CBD hemp flower from marijuana.  If you live in a place where marijuana is illegal and CBD flower is legal you should take care with your hemp flower.  Avoid driving with it in your car and vape (don’t smoke) it in the privacy of your home.  Ok – maybe smoke it if you want.  Details are in this video from your friendly neighborhood Indiana police officer.  I love the caption “Working for You.”  I don’t think he’s working for me.