Hitting the Rapids

Summer is here and we hope you are loving it as much as we are loving it!! We hope everyone is enjoying the summer vibes and getting out there making the most of their new found freedom. Sports, sun and fun are the orders of the day and if you can find your way to the water all the better. This week we are going to continue the story of our ongoing journeys in the strange and wonderful world of cannabis.

Shooting the Rapids

So the industry by its very nature is chaotic and unpredictable. It is very much like shooting the rapids on a spring-melt swollen river, you know its going to get gnarly, but you don’t know just how gnarly until you are in it, and then its too late to do anything about it except move through it. This is the law of the start-up added to the laws of emerging industry. Particularly when that industry is being born out of a previously illicit industry. This brings us to the point of the law. What is the law regarding CBD and cannabis and how does it affect us all.

First it is important to understand that its only been 3 years since CBD and hemp were treated differently from cannabis. Before then hemp and cannabis were one in the same in the eyes of the authorities and the eyes of the general public. As we mentioned in our series on cannabis regulation, cannabis was and still is considered to be a class 1 narcotic, being classified with the likes of heroin and morphine. Which is just insane to be frank, but that is a story for another time. There is a good summation of the subject here.

Stakeholders and A Conflict of Interests

Given the circumstances it is natural that the level of confusion associated with all this is going to be high. There are the people who know and have known cannabis and CBD in particular for decades. There is the medical community who has embraced cannabis and is not averse to recommending CBD for a variety of ailments.

Then there are the regulators who can see that CBD and hemp are not even remotely close to being the same thing as cannabis. Its usually the people in the agricultural sector who think this way and the feeling is generally universal.

Finally, you have the pharmaceutical sector who for a variety of reasons of their own have taken a hardline approach to demanding regulation and registration for CBD products in a lengthy and costly registration process. A process that has pushed for ONLY CBD isolate to be approved for public consumption. Even then it is to be registered as a novel food, a process that can run into the millions in terms of cost.

The Pharma Solution

This is all in pursuit of, in typical pharma fashion, intellectual property and patent rights that will give a handful of companies rights to exclusivity for a limited period of time in regard to sale and distribution of CBD extract. This is similar to the current model being used for pharmaceutical drugs. To be fair it is also about minimizing the exposure to legal risk due to the fact that THC is still considered a narcotic.

There is only one problem with this approach, pure CBD isolate is seen as being far less effective than the full spectrum or even broad-spectrum CBD extracts. Full spectrum extracts are favored by industry experts and experienced end-users. Isolate is favored by no one outside of the ‘Pharma Solution’ crowd.

Too Much of a Bad Thing

One of the early supporters of the ‘Pharma Solution’ was recently quoted as saying that creating pure isolate solved the problem of THC but as a result the synergy between CBD and the other elements of the plant, commonly referred to as the entourage effect, was lost. The unnamed element that we refer to as the “breath of life” ceased to be a part of the CBD experience. He compared it to dumping a pile of concrete on top of unstable nuclear material. The concrete will stabilize the material but it will also render it completely useless.

In short, the ‘Pharma Solution’ has hit a brick wall. Trying to apply the mechanistic principles of modern empirical science to the medicinal plant traditions that span back over 3000 years is a non-starter. It is difficult to do the right thing when you can make so much money doing it wrong.

Join us next week as we continue our journey and tell a tale of personal adventures on the European Frontiers and more fun and games with the customs officials in the EU. Have a great weekend and embrace your summer self with both arms!!