This Week in CBD: September 27, 2019

This week the Arthritis Foundation became the first major health organization to issue guidance for using CBD as a treatment for arthritis pain. 

The foundation created the guidance, with help from expert researchers, after reviewing the results of a survey that they conducted in July of 2019. According to the survey, of more than 2,600 arthritis patients questioned, nearly 80 percent stated that they were either currently using CBD, have used it, or are considering it for their joint pain.

While the patient advocacy group does not make claims for the efficacy of CBD, they “are intrigued by the potential of CBD to help people find pain relief and are on record urging the FDA to expedite the study and regulation of these products.” 

While recognizing that there are no established clinical guidelines to inform usage, the document seeks to empower patients already interested in trying CBD for arthritis with some general recommendations.

Key elements of the guidance include advising patients to:

  • Consult with physicians about possible drug interactions 
  • Start with a low dose and, if necessary, increase in small increments weekly
  • Buy from reputable companies (that share third party lab tests)

This Week’s Top CBD Deals

This was a good week for the hemp and marijuana industries as the SAFE Banking Act was passed in the House of Representatives. The historic legislation, which is the first ever vote on a stand-alone cannabis bill, would allow federally-insured financial institutions to work with both hemp and marijuana-related businesses without facing federal punishment.  

The bill, which still has to be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate, is an attempt to help ease the financing issues faced by the legal hemp and marijuana industries. 

Even after the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, many hemp-related businesses find it difficult to find banks and credit card companies willing to work with them — whether that be by providing business accounts, loans, or credit card services. 

According to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a hemp advocacy group that was closely consulted on the legislation, the SAFE Banking Act performs two main functions:

  • Provides a safe harbor for hemp financial transactions, ensuring that banks and other financial institutions would not face federal punishment for those activities; and
  • Directs the federal financial regulators (FDIC, Federal Reserve, etc.) to issue clear, formal guidance to banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions about the legality of hemp and CBD commerce.

Over the last 18 months, three truck drivers have been arrested in Idaho for hauling loads of federally legal hemp through the state. Charged with felony marijuana trafficking charges, all three drivers have agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanors in return for suspended jail sentences and fines.

The plea agreements, while allowing the truck drivers to avoid actual jail time, underscore Idaho’s hardline stance on hemp, reminding other hemp companies of the risks of transporting hemp through the state:

“Despite changes to the Federal Schedule of Controlled Substance brought about by the enactment of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, cannabis plants containing any amount of THC or Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol remain illegal in Idaho,” reads the agreement.

The issue of hemp crop insurance was raised late last week in a House Agricultural Committee meeting, with congressional leaders questioning the workability of insuring the crop.

Democratic Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota raised the issue, expressing doubts that hemp could be insured in the near future, considering the dearth of experience with producing it at commercial scale.

Petersen directed his remarks to Bill Northey, undersecretary for farm production and conservation at the US Department of Agriculture, who admitted the “challenges coming up with a product (for hemp) that fairly represents the risk, and understanding how it should be priced.”

The USDA stated last month that famers producing hemp for fiber, flower, and seed would be eligible for 2020 crop insurance, but has yet to outline specific details of the insurance plan.

Cannabis pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals saw its shares rise early this week when European Union officials voted to approve marketing authorization for its drug Epidiolex. 

Epidiolex, which hit the U.S. market in 2018, is the first and only FDA-approved prescription CBD, intended to treat hard-to-manage forms of childhood epilepsy.

“The approval of EPIDYOLEX marks a significant milestone, offering patients and their families the first in a new class of epilepsy medicines and the first and only EMA-approved CBD medicine to treat two severe and life-threatening forms of childhood-onset epilepsy,” said GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover.

Receiving EU approval, though, doesn’t guarantee that all patients will have access to the medication. The UK’s National Health Service, for example, has already ruled that the price of the drug is cost-prohibitive for the national health program.

South Carolina law enforcement entered a legal quagmire early this week following the arrest of a farmer, John Trenteon Pedarvis, for “unlawfully cultivating hemp.” While industrial hemp is legal in the state, it is a tightly regulated crop.  

At issue in this particular case is not whether Pedarvis should have been growing hemp (he had a license to do so) but rather a mapping error which, according to his supporters, he was in the process of correcting with the SC Department of Agriculture (SCDA).

Further complicating the issue is the confusion over whether the SCDA was justified in carrying out the destruction of Pedarvis’ crop. Those ten acres of hemp were valued at more than $12 million.

“I think they were showing their authority, and they wanted to make an example out of me,” Pendarvis told The Post and Courier. “It’s a technicality.”