State Headliners: Hemp isn’t marijuana, but similarities cause problems, raise questions

By Guy Page

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM) will hold its first public hearings in Brandon today and in Newport tomorrow to discuss the rulemaking process for the state’s hemp program.

Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

The scheduled hearing dates are Thursday, June 27 1-4 pm in the Brandon Town Offices, The Ballroom, 1 Conant Square, Brandon, and Friday, June 28 1-4 pm in the Emory Hebard Office Building, 100 Main Street, Newport.

From a psychoactive point-of-view, hemp is the weak sister of marijuana. Marijuana is to hemp what a double whiskey is to a Shirley Temple. That’s because hemp has virtually no psychoactive THC.

However, hemp looks like high-THC marijuana. This presents at least two distinct problems for law enforcement: one, growers may hide marijuana in plain sight; second, thieves target hemp, thinking it is marijuana.

Growing large numbers of marijuana plants is still illegal (for now) to anyone without a medical marijuana license. But a big field of hemp is excellent cover for a smaller patch of extremely profitable marijuana. This May, a Craftsbury farm with a hemp permit was found to be growing high-potency marijuana. On the flip side, a Colchester hemp farm was hit six heists in 2018 by thieves who apparently believed they were stealing marijuana plants. Although maybe the thieves knew exactly what they were stealing – the farm’s estimated financial losses totaled an $100,000, Colchester police said.

Another concern about hemp is that the main customer product derived from hemp, CBD oil, is itself little-understood, compared to other non-regulated health products. The following is excerpted from a Harvard Medical School publication:

Is cannabidiol safe?

Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.

The bottom line on cannabidiol. Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Peter Terry

One thought on “State Headliners: Hemp isn’t marijuana, but similarities cause problems, raise questions

  1. One of the great problems facing these hemp Growers is pretty much Unknown by most people. It only takes two active marijuana plants in a whole field of hemp to contaminate that whole crop and make it THC active which then, upon testing, would be unfit for sale in the hemp Market and obviously have to be destroyed. But of course we all know that it won’t be destroyed it’ll end up on the black market some place as active marijuana.

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