This Week in CBD: September 13, 2019

The perils of vaping have suddenly become very big news in the US, with six deaths and several hundred possible cases of lung illness associated with e-cigarettes. While it’s not yet clear what is causing the illnesses, the chemical vitamin E acetate is a key focus of the ongoing investigation.

Because at least five of the fatalities have been linked to vaping cannabis products, the cannabis industry is preparing for a possible decline in vape sales in the near future.

It seems, though, that most cases have been connected to cannabis products bought from illicit dealers, rather than licensed shops. The CDC has warned consumers not to buy or use vape products “off the street,” and says that, regardless of the current investigation, “adults who do not currently use tobacco products” should not use vape products.

Arnaud Dumas de Rauly, who chairs the ISO Committee on Vaping Standards and CEN Vaping Standards Committee (and is also the CEO of a vape company), points out that vitamin E is not used in standard cannabis oil or vape cartridge production.

“The culprit here is the black-market product. It’s not the cartridge, it’s not the hardware, it’s not the regulators. It’s the black market,” he said.

According to US health officials, though, the jury is still out on the cause of this spate of pulmonary illnesses. On Monday, the American Medical Association urged the public to avoid the use of e-cigarette products as the investigation continues.

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A recent hemp bust in Boise, Idaho, had a happier ending than a previous seizure of hemp in the state.

Oregon-based CBD business Treasure Valley Extraction used UPS to send 46 pounds of hemp to five different states. The glitch? While hemp is legal in each of the destination states, the shipment had to go through the UPS distribution facility in Boise.

Unlike most other states, Idaho has retained a defiant stance on industrial hemp and has not hesitated in the past to seize a shipment of hemp bound for other states. This time, though, the Boise Police Department opted to return it to the sender — since the shipment began and ended in states where the product is legal.

Meanwhile, the truck driver that was arrested and charged with a felony for driving hemp through Idaho accepted a plea deal this week. Denis Palamarchuk agreed to plead guilty to hauling an improperly permitted load, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors are dropping felony trafficking charges and will ask that most of his jail time be suspended.

In a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal this week, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem put her anti-hemp stance in black and white. Promising to veto any future bill that would legalize hemp, the letter stated her concern that “states that have legalized hemp have essentially legalized marijuana as well.”

Legislators in South Dakota aren’t going to give up easily, though. House Majority Leader Lee Qualm stated this week that legislators will have another hemp bill ready for the next session.

And while it’s too early to say if the legislature will have the votes to override a veto on hemp in 2020, “We will work very diligently to make that happen, if that’s what we feel we need to do,” said Qualm.

As hemp sheds its former taboo, some farmers are finding that that growing the crop may be complicated by their race.

Demarkius Medley, a hemp farmer who also happens to be black, was interrupted in the middle of trimming his hemp plants when police pulled up to his farm and demanded that he prove that he owned the farm (and wasn’t trespassing).

As officers began to search the property, Medley eventually called his (white) neighbor Steve Sperry, who helps out on the farm and had a copy of the Illinois Department of Agriculture permit to grow the hemp.

Medley reported that the attitude of police relaxed considerably when Sperry appeared with the license. “I have to go get my white friend to get all these white cops to believe me,” Medley said.

“You don’t really see too many black farmers, let alone black hemp farmers,” said Medley, who also works a full-time job as a distribution designer. “I’m not anti-police. I support our police officers. They’re brave for what they do and I respect that. Some mistakes were made by some police officers. It’s just a sensitive time in America,” explained Medley.

For those required to take drug tests, taking CBD can be a tricky business. While the legal threshold for THC content is low (0.3%), even small amounts of THC can build up in the fatty tissue and show up in a urine test.

Emily Roberts, of Provo, Utah, is discovering this in the hardest way possible. She has been threatened with losing custody of her children after testing positive for THC. This is despite the fact that CBD is legal to possess in Utah, and Roberts, who takes CBD for nerve pain, qualifies as a cannabis patient under the state’s new medical marijuana law.

After becoming homeless in 2018, Roberts and her husband came under the purview of the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. After briefly losing custody of their children, have since been required to take random urine tests.

Roberts tested positive for THC in a recent test, prompting child and family services to get involved. “[The judge] is denying me my legal ability to use this medicine and to be a better mom,” Roberts said.

If you’re a retired athlete living in Colorado, you may be eligible to participate in a pilot research study on how CBD affects quality of life.

Cannabis Clinicians Colorado, a group of health-care professionals dedicated to studying medical marijuana, is looking for sixteen retired athletes for the study. Researchers will focus on CBD’s effects on sleep and chronic pain, among other factors that influence quality of life.

Martha Montemayor, the group’s director, explains, “If you’ve played at least one season of college, we’ll take you. That’s a pretty elite level, with the amount of work that you have to do to get there. All we require for you to be qualified as a retired elite-level athlete is to at least have played a year, or even a season, in college.”

Hemp clothing has come a long way from the hippie skirts of the 60s. This week at NY Fashion Week, designer Korto Momulu debuted a sustainable hemp women’s wear line.

To present the show, Project Runway alum Momolu partnered with Women Grow, the largest network of women in the cannabis and hemp industries.

“Women Grow has a great handle on an industry that is about to truly explode, and this offers a huge opportunity for women to make their mark. They’re all about empowering women, and that’s what resonated with me the most.”