In the realm of plant medicine, few have been as misunderstood and unfairly treated as hemp. As a medical professional with a passion for my patients’ health and well-being, I believe it is crucial to shed light on the distinctions between hemp and marijuana, particularly given the recent adoption of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill as well as the Texas Department of Agriculture which removed hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Firstly, let's clarify the relationship between hemp and marijuana — they are essentially different classifications of the same cannabis plant. Hemp is grown primarily for industrial and medicinal purposes, boasting a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Marijuana on the other hand is cultivated for both recreational and medicinal usage, and its psychoactive component, THC, is what induces the famous “high”, thus its recreational value.
It's heartening to note that Texas recognized the potential benefits of hemp, legalizing it in 2019 through the Texas House Bill 1325. This legislation allows for the production and sale of hemp-derived CBD products containing 0.3% or less of THC. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid — a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant — that interacts with our body's endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of neurotransmitters that regulate various bodily functions, including cognitive processes, fertility, immune responses, appetite, pain sensations, mood, motor function, memory, and more as clinical studies continue. When one consumes cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, they interact with the ECS through neuroreceptors. It’s quite a wonder that the human body is already equipped to produce and handle cannabinoids!
CBD and THC are the two most prominent cannabinoids in cannabis, with hemp containing mostly CBD and minimal THC, while marijuana has higher levels of THC. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating, non-addictive, and holds great promise for a range of health benefits. Studies suggest its efficacy in chronic pain management, anxiety reduction, and promoting better sleep. Notably, the FDA has approved Epidiolex, a CBD drug, for treating epilepsy.
Beyond its medicinal potential, hemp has been a staple in human civilization for millennia. A sustainable and fast-growing crop, hemp yields durable textiles, clothing, ropes, paper, cosmetics, oils, biofuels, and medicinal products. It is a veritable marvel of nature that, unfortunately, endured a nearly century-long vilification due to misguided policies like the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
To appreciate hemp's historical significance, consider this: George Washington himself grew hemp to make ropes, sacks, and canvas. However, the aforementioned Act, aimed at curbing recreational marijuana use, inadvertently ensnared hemp in its restrictions. For almost a century, hemp faced unjust stigma and misunderstanding due to the phenotypic (observable) similarities to marijuana.
As we unravel the science behind this remarkable hemp plant, it becomes increasingly clear that the benefits of hemp are numerous. Products made from CBD isolate and our CBD distillate contain no THC, ensuring no psychoactive effects. Resulting from the absence of THC, consumption of our CBD products do not show up in drug tests either. This makes our products ideal for managing issues like pain, anxiety, and more, offering a safe, natural and effective alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals.
The recent legalization of hemp-derived CBD in Texas marks a pivotal moment in harnessing the therapeutic potential of this ancient plant. As we continue to explore the science behind CBD and other cannabinoids, it's crucial to dispel misconceptions, embrace the sustainable benefits of hemp for health, and foster a new era of natural healing for Texans and beyond.
Dr. Garth Vaz is a family practice physician at The Vaz Clinic, PA in Gonzales.