Miracle Drug Hemp Oil Or Poison? One Company’s Sketchy Saga
Green Relief note. We grow our med’s in organic soil and use organic nutrients and organic medical grade “food” grade alcholol for our CBD and THC rich oils. This is an interesting article.
BY MARTIN LEE ON OCTOBER 14, 2014 BUSINESS, DRUG TESTING, HEALTH & MEDICINE, MARIJUANA NEWS, MEDICINE, SCIENCE, STUDIES
It sounds almost too good to be true — a healing oil rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive compound derived from industrial hemp that’s safe to use and legal to buy and possess and in all fifty states.
That’s what Medical Marijuana Inc., a leading purveyor of CBD-infused “hemp oil,” claims about its products, which can be purchased through Amazon.com and other online retailers.
A half year ago, Project CBD (projectcbd.org) assigned a journalist, Aaron Miguel Cantú, to report on the complex financial machinations of Medical Marijuana Inc., a penny stock company that aggressively markets CBD-infused products through its subsidiaries HempMeds and Kannaway. Our investigation took an unexpected turn when we heard from several sources that people were getting sick, in some cases “violently ill,” when they ingested Real Scientific Hemp Oil (RSHO), Medical Marijuana Inc.’s flagship product.
Project CBD decided to look into whether there was any truth to these allegations. In particular, we sought to determine if any contaminants — heavy metals, toxic solvents, or bacteria — were present in the RSHO samples we had received from people who claimed to have suffered severe gastrointestinal distress after they consumed Medical Marijuana Inc.’s hemp oil.
Project CBD commissioned two analytical labs to test several RSHO samples. What we learned was disturbing:
Analytical lab tests conducted by Phyta Tech in Denver revealed significant levels of hexane, a highly toxic industrial solvent, in samples of “RSHO Gold.” Symptoms of hexane poisoning include nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, and mental confusion. Concentrations of hexane in excess of 50 grams can be fatal.
Flora Research Laboratories, a DEA and FDA registered facility, found several other “class one” neurotoxic solvents in addition to hexane in a RSHO sample. This is “the most dangerous and toxic class of solvents,” according to Dr. Jahan Marcu. The “hot” RSHO Gold sample came from Bandon Krenzler, whose 8-year-old girl, a cancer patient, was sickened after she ingested the oil.
Promotional campaigns by HempMeds, the marketing arm of Medical Marijuana Inc., have specifically targeted children with serious disabilities and their parents. A remedy of last resort for children with catastrophic seizure disorders, CBD-rich oil from various sources has proven effective in some cases of treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Contrary to what Medical Marijuana Inc. claims, CBD-infused “hemp oil” is not federally legal in all 50 states. In some lab tests, RSHO products were found to have more than the legal limit of THC. Moreover, cannabidiol in any form is still a Schedule One substance, according to the DEA and FDA, though this may change next year if Congress passes a bill to exempt industrial hemp and CBD from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.
The Project CBD found similarly suspect practices on the financial end of the business:
Kannaway, a MJNA subsidiary, is engaging in business practices that may qualify it as a pyramid scheme based on guidelines published by the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Division of Consumer and Business Education.
Discrepancies between MJNA business results and its press strategy have caused industry analysts to raise questions about a stock scheme and potential financial fraud.
These and other findings are discussed in detail in Hemp Oil Hustlers: A Project CBD Special Report on Medical Marijuana Inc., HempMeds, and Kannaway.
Project CBD feels strongly that this report should not be taken as justification to attack the medical marijuana community or impose ever-more capricious restrictions on patients and providers.
Nor do we wish to cast aspersions on well-intentioned companies that are working with industrial hemp to create CBD-rich products. We believe that industrial hemp is not an optimal source of CBD, but it can be a viable source of CBD if certain hemp cultivars are grown organically in good soil and safe extraction and refinement methods are employed.
Our sources indicate that the best industrial hemp variety for CBD extraction tops the charts at 3.5 percent cannabidiol by dry weight. That’s exceptionally high CBD content for the leaves and flowers of industrial hemp. But it’s paltry compared to CBD-rich cannabis grown in California and other medical marijuana states. The “ACDC” strain, for example, measures around 15 percent CBD and less than one percent THC by dry weight.
Currently under federal law industrial hemp grown abroad is legal for importation and sale in the United States as long as the hemp product contains 0.3 percent THC or less and is derived from the seed or stalk of the plant, not from the leaves and flowers. But CBD can’t be extracted from hempseed. This means that hemp stalk, which contains little CBD, might be the only legal source of cannabidiol from foreign-grown industrial hemp.
Sourcing CBD from industrial hemp stalk is inherently problematic because a huge amount of plant material is required for sufficient oil extraction. Hemp is a bioaccumulator; it sucks up contaminants from the soil. Hemp’s phyto-remedial properties increase the likelihood that heavy metals and other poisons will be extracted and concentrated along with a tiny amount of CBD from the stalk.
Project CBD maintains that federal law should be changed to facilitate CBD production from the most prolific natural source of cannabidiol available — CBD-rich cannabis with little THC. Practically speaking, this would entail de-scheduling the whole plant, not just a single compound or single strain.
For the first time since the late 1950s, researchers in the United States were allowed to grow industrial hemp legally in 2014. There’s no doubt that the surge of national interest in CBD has been a key factor in catalyzing the domestic rebirth of industrial hemp. CBD is also where industrial hemp intersects with the great laboratory experiment in democracy known as medical marijuana.
Given the enormous therapeutic potential of whole plant cannabidiol, it’s imperative to implement sensible regulations for CBD-rich products in accordance with safety standards that apply to other medicinal herbs. All cannabis oil products should be lab tested for contaminants and labeled accurately for content. If tainted products are discovered, they should be recalled without delay. Relevant quality control standards are delineated in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia’s recent monograph on cannabis. These guidelines should be adopted by state regulators and welcomed by the medical marijuana community.
Read the full report.
Martin A. Lee is Director of Project CBD and author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana—Medical, Recreational and Scientific.