A 1993-produced General Motors (GMC) diesel bus traveled 48 states in the United States within two years. They visited major universities, businesses, Native American regions, and the Capital. The bus looks like a walking encyclopedia covered in the illustration of many uses of industrial hemp and CBD striking slogan “Hemp road trip.” This name was also taken by the later industrial hemp documentary, recording what was seen and heard during their road trip. The diesel bus personified nickname – “Hempy, the hemp bus.”
The man driving Hempy for thousands of miles is Rick Trojan, the director of this documentary and who has been in the industrial hemp industry for more than 20 years. Rick is also the vice president of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA).
HIA is a non-profit trade group from North America. Founded in 1994, it represents the industrial hemp industry in the United States and is committed to promoting the hemp industry, market education, and worldwide expansion. The entire team currently has more than 170 people, and this number is growing with the popularity of industrial hemp. The association has also entered into a long-term partnership with the international industrial cannabis planting organization, Votehemp. Together, they will promote the legalization of the CBD.
HIA is not only a “preacher” in the industrial hemp industry but also a true “fighter”.
- 2001, The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that any product containing THC (natural or synthetic) as controlled substance. Thus industrial cannabis containing only a small amount of THC was included in the scope of control, as was strictly classified as a first-level controlled substance.
- 2004, several industrial cannabis companies, led by HIA, jointly sued DEA. For DEA, as a law enforcement agency under the US Department of Justice, has no legislative power.
- 2018, the same plot happens again. The reason why DEA was sued this time was the “Marijuana Extract Rule.” In 2016, in the MER was issued, then it took effect in 2017, DEA newly added CBD and other cannabinoids into the control list. Industrial hemp advocates such as HIA firmly believe that the CBD should not be included in the scope of control. Not long after the 2018 Farm Bill finalized the definition and classification of the CBD.
CBD Is Not Addictive, and Popularizing the CBD Is Very “Addictive”
During the road trip, many people were interviewed, “Do you know what hemp is?” The number of positive answers was low enough to surprise Rick Trojan.
They also experienced misunderstandings. Once Hempy had a breakdown, Trojan and his team were waiting for the tractor for rescue. They chatted with the people in the waiting room. When Trojan said that he just visited the nearby industrial cannabis plantation, a man refused to shake hands with him. Because the man was afraid of been detected of “marijuana” in drug tests – for such an illegal drug, he may lose his job.
This seems ridiculous but reasonable. According to statistics of 2016, the United States is the world’s largest importer of industrial hemp, but less than 3% of Americans who truly understand industrial hemp and the CBD. Now this figure is gradually increasing by the legalization of industrial hemp, which is about 10-15%. Obviously, the market still needs continuous education.
Similar to China, Cannabis (including both hemp and marijuana) has been presented as a horrible thing by media for a long time. Many Americans hold negative perceptions towards cannabis plants (both hemp and marijuana), especially the “older generation”. The vast majority of them are different from young people who are curious to new ideas. How to bust this stereotype is one of the top priorities of market education.
This is also the purpose of this road trip – education, science popularization, communication to shackle off the stigma been put onto hemp unfairly. In particular, legislatures such as Congress need to understand the value of industrial hemp for the country.
Industrial Hemp Is Not Marijuana
On the back window of Hempy, there is a slogan: HEMP IS NOT MARIJUANA.
In 2018, the most important thing for the industrial hemp community could be the Farm Bill passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Bill includes provisions for the legalization of industrial hemp cultivation and production throughout the United States. The removal of Industrial hemp out of controlled substances also means that the concept and definition of industrial hemp and marijuana are more clearly divided. In terms of subdivision, industrial hemp is agricultural plants, while marijuana is somehow a “drug” with a THC content higher than 0.3% is subject to strict controlled. Cannabinol (CBD), cannabinol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) and other cannabinoids extracted from industrial hemp can be legally sold and purchased as long as the product is FDA-approved and regulated by the states.
The controversy over hemp has finalized. The “political drama” of HIA and DEA for many years also came to an end.
However, most people were not enthusiastic to enter the hemp industry but, watching.
Because supervision and regulation have not yet formed.
On May 31, 2019, the FDA held a hearing on the CBD industry. The hearing was attended by various related parties: CBD manufacturers, medical health agency spokespersons, and related diseases patients. The 170-member HIA team wrote a letter and submitted it to the FDA on behalf of the industry. The letter emphasizes the eagerness of industry participants for the research and testing of the CBD and a specified supervision system.
Rick Trojan mentioned that Israel has made great progress in clinical research of CBD since the 1960s. Israeli academics were the first in the world to achieve the extraction and isolation of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC from cannabis plants. Since the 1990s, the relevant laboratory projects have received strong government support, and the Hebrew University School of Medicine opened a special cannabinoid research center in 2017. Israel’s research of cannabinoids has been far ahead of other European and American counterparts for decades.
In contrast, the standard for cannabinoids test in the United States is not uniformed, and each state has its own standards. For example, in some states, THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol, which can be converted to THC after heating) is also included in the detection of THC, while some states do not. More efforts are needed to maintain market stability before the corresponding policies are introduced.
Europe and Canada have highly regulated industrial cannabis derivatives and have less government intervention. Canada has now legalized both the recreational marijuana and industrial hemp industry. Products containing CBD require strict qualifications and legal licenses from ingredient testing, medical purposes, production processes, to packaging labels.
For the United States, which has just legalized hemp, Israel’s scientific research data and neighboring Canada’s industrial hemp industry chain, especially the regulatory system in practice, are worth learning and bring reference to the formulation of US local policies.
CBD Products in the US
The true effect of CBD products on health has been deliberately exaggerated, and it is indeed a big problem as FDA pointed out at the hearing.
Before the 2018 Farm Bill was signed, many CBD products were already circulating in the market. However, these products have not passed the FDA review. Strictly speaking, only Epidiolex drugs developed by GW Pharmaceutical, the largest pharmaceutical brand in the United States, received FDA certification in June 2018.
Although the benefits are obvious to those who understand the CBD, it is somehow inappropriate to brag the properties of CBD without a testing standard to determine its content. The current advertisement for CBD applications contains a lot of untrue or exaggerated content. For example, CBD “can treat cancer” or “can prevent cancer” claimed by many manufacturers. Actually CBD can not cure cancer, and it can be called auxiliary medicine at most. This is mainly due to the efficacy of the CBD to relieve pain, stimulate appetite, and reduce adverse reactions during chemotherapy.
In terms of cancer prevention, the National Cancer Institute has conducted related research, and the results show that the correlation between cancer and CBD is uncertain, and there are even many contradictions. People who have used cannabis products have a lower chance to get cancer caused by tobacco, while non-smoker especially males, have a higher chance of developing prostate cancer after using cannabinoids.
Long-term clinical trials are not enough, leading to greater opportunities with higher risks.
Hemp Road Trip China
Rick Trojan’s hemp trip also came to China. As early as two years ago, they have visited the legal planting base in Yunnan Province and studied the legality of industrial hemp applications. On this trip, Rick visited 4 or 5 factories in Yunnan CBD for extraction and found that there are many differences between the technologies used in China and the United States, and China’s productivity is higher. However, regarding China’s hemp stains, the CBD content of Yunnan industrial hemp is much smaller than the 15% that the US strains can achieve. On the other hand, the US industrial hemp strains have less diversity of cannabinoids and terpenes than their counterparts in China.
Hemp, whether as textile, food or Chinese herbal medicine, has a thousand years of history in China. See Vapebiz’s previous article: Cannabis in China
Rick Trojan believes that although the impact of China-US trade war is obvious to both countries, consumer demand for good products and reasonable prices will bring opportunities to achieve a win-win situation through cooperation and negotiation for the hemp industry both in China and the US. The premise is that both countries need to face up to the policy and respect for each other.
Rick Trojan’s hemp road trip is still underway, and HIA is also on the road to attract more people into the hemp industry for they can play a greater role in technology, knowledge, research, and market. Above these is the education – allowing more people to rethink and re-examine industrial hemp.
As the final subtitle of the Hemp Road Trip documentary, “Educate yourself, then educate others.”