With hemp farmers profiting more and more throughout the country, Wisconsin followed suit last spring and legalized CBD oil, leading several farmers to switch to hemp production.
Shawn Conley, an agronomy professor at the University of Wisconsin, helped explain what exactly CBD is and the implications of its legalization.
“Cannabidiol is a component of industrial hemp, and the oil must test below rules and regulations for THC levels,” Conley said.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the active compound in hemp. The lack of THC is an important detail when considering the substance because, without it, CBD oil provides the medicinal benefits of marijuana without the high.
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Conley stated the legalization is significant because it allows for increased regulation, therefore making the product safer for the public.
“[Legalization] will hopefully provide consumers with a safe and consistent supply of oil,” Conley said. “Currently this market has not been regulated, and consumers may be at risk.”
The ability to regulate and screen CBD products will allow the public to know exactly what they are consuming while preventing exposure to any unexpected chemicals.
Conley also weighed in on what the next bill for Wisconsin concerning legalization would hold.
“From what I understand, the next farm bill will differentiate hemp from marijuana and only hemp would be legalized. The ruling would clear any gray area for hemp and it will basically become a commodity . . . As with any commodity, the price will stabilize,” Conley said. “My fear is that the hemp or CBD oil market will be flooded and any value will be removed from the market.”
Tim O’Brien, who has been selling CBD oil out of his business Apple Wellness in Sun Prairie and Fitchburg, mapped out the effects CBD legalization has had on his business and Wisconsin as a whole.
“It has been incredible for the farmers, the manufacturers, the retailers and the customers — it has just been so successful,” O’Brien said. “All through that supply chain, it has impacted them in a positive way and it is exciting to be a part of.”
O’Brien said Apple Wellness gets its CBD oil primarily from Colorado, though some comes from Oregon and California as well. They do not buy from just one supplier but dozens, O’Brien said.
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O’Brien said the market for CBD oil has been thriving and their CBD has been selling very well ever since its legalization. He noted there has not been much need for advertising, as word of mouth has proven to be the more effective outlet for this particular product.
“It is working for people, so they are coming back for it and they are telling other people . . . without question, word of mouth has been the most powerful. It is exciting for us to sell it to somebody [who has] chronic pain [because] they are on opiates and NSAIDs, and they get off of the drugs which they have been on for 20 years,” O’Brien said. “Then they will tell everybody they know because they are just jumping through the roof with excitement.”
O’Brien said there are now more than 350 farmers who have changed their business to hemp production in Wisconsin alone. This change took place just over this last year.
O’Brien said this change is due to the many challenges that farmers face which make it harder for them to make money. Switching to hemp farming is a more profitable option for many.
O’Brien explained that CBD as a compound is strengthening to the endocannabinoid system, which is like a distribution center that sends cannabinoids that strengthen the whole body.
O’Brien used the example of treating stress with CBD, saying that cannabinoids sent to the brain strengthen the hippocampus, which has a calming, anxiety-relieving effect. He also explained that in a case such as using CBD to treat chronic back pain, the cannabinoids are received by the cannabinoid receptors in the back, thereby creating a state of homeostasis, preventing inflammation and treating pain.
“A good way to sum it up is all the benefits that we have heard about from medicinal marijuana is true of CBD, without the high,” O’Brien said.