Article by: Josephine Cannella-Krehl, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project Advisory Committee, FDACS Medical Advisory Committee,
Correspondence to: www.mmjknowledge.com, (850) 653-6928
Edited by Zack Brym and D’Alicia Straughter
This insights article is part of the blog series Perspectives from the Hemp Industry.
A Bit About Hemp and Marijuana
Hemp has been described to be among the strongest fibers in the world, among the most nutritionally balanced of oilseeds, and among the frontier of plant-based medicine. Hemp is a dynamic crop that can be harvested for a wide range of products, including fabrics and textiles (canvas, rope, netting, etc.); paper and construction materials; animal bedding; personal care items (soap, shampoo, and cosmetics, etc.); nutritional supplements, foods, and beverages.
Historically, hemp is a non-intoxicating variety of Cannabis sativa L., grown for utility purposes, think seed and fiber, while marijuana, was grown for ritual purposes, think leaves and flower buds (USDA ERS, 2000). From a strictly botanical perspective, hemp and marijuana are the same plant species (Cannabis sativa L.) but are different varieties (or cultivars) of the plant. Cannabis plants are distinguished by their chemical and genetic compositions driven by legal definitions and regulatory oversight. Hemp contains less than 0.3% dry weight of the psychoactive compound, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) while marijuana may contain much higher levels of THC (Congressional Research Service, 2019).
Up until the 1930s, cannabis was grown as both an industrial commodity (hemp) and as an herbal therapeutic (marijuana). Marijuana was commonly used in medicinal preparations and was included in the American Pharmacopeia well into the late 1930s. Physicians regularly prescribed it as an herbal medication to treat a host of medical conditions including asthma, seizures, rheumatism, and pain.
With the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, cannabis was placed under the regulatory control of the U.S. Treasury Department. This Act when passed restricted cannabis production, requiring hemp growers to register, and become licensed with the Federal Government. Interestingly, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed even though it was strongly opposed by the American Medical Association at the time. The AMA argued that passing the Act would interfere with a physician’s ability to prescribe and a pharmacy’s ability to sell medical cannabis because of the high taxes that would be imposed on them. Despite the objections, the Act was passed, and the United States “lost” access to an important therapeutic treatment option, in addition to an incredibly valuable and useful commodity. In 1970, cannabis was further restricted when it was placed on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (Lee, 2021). As a result, all varieties of the plant, marijuana and hemp, became Federally illegal.
It was not until recent years, with the passage of the Federal Farm Bill of 2014, that modern changes happened for hemp led by state-run pilot projects. The 2018 Federal Farm Bill changed hemp’s status again, paving the way for the commercial cultivation, manufacturing and production of hemp and hemp products across the United States. These Federal changes coincided with Florida’s renewed interest in marijuana and hemp. Florida’s first medical marijuana law was passed in 2014 and the first industrial hemp law in 2017. Both programs have evolved in recent years and Florida’s medical marijuana and industrial hemp industries continue to develop. As these cannabis industries operate with what is in essence the same plant, there’s been a lot of confusion surrounding hemp and marijuana.
In Florida, hemp is regulated under the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and medical marijuana under the Florida Department of Health. In 2020, FDACS began issuing hemp cultivation licenses, allowing hemp to be grown legally in Florida, for the first time in decades. Hemp growers are exploring crops for industrial purposes as well as for producing CBD-rich oils extracted from flowers.
Hemp is low in THC but can still contain significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), a compound with potential for medical applications. CBD is a non-euphoric cannabinoid, meaning it will not get you high. Marijuana, on the other hand, contains varying levels of both THC and CBD. Both THC and CBD interact with receptors in our bodies and can offer considerable therapeutic benefits.
Since CBD can come from both hemp and marijuana, many people are left wondering…
What’s the difference between CBD from hemp and CBD from marijuana?
CBD that comes from hemp and marijuana are chemically equivalent and derived from the same enzyme. Some CBD products contain other cannabinoids and those products (sometimes called “full spectrum” or “broad spectrum”) can have different cannabinoid composition based on origin from hemp or marijuana plants and processing methods. These products may then more accurately fall into the category of “medical cannabis” because hemp and marijuana can be cultivated to produce CBD for medicine. It remains important legally to distinguish between hemp and marijuana derived CBD along with the consideration for what other cannabinoids (think THC) may be present in the product. Yet, marijuana, and perhaps cannabis more generally, continues to carry a negative stigma that may hinder discussion of plant-based medicine.
Another common question people have is…
Are CBD products created equally?
The answer to this question is a resounding and emphatic, “No!” CBD products can differ in cannabinoid composition, but they also drastically differ in their quality. Yet, CBD products from hemp are widely available for “over the counter” purchase at health food markets, grocery stores, and gas stations.
Since “over the counter” hemp-derived CBD products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consumers need to be well educated when exploring potential product options. As defined under Florida law, hemp products with CBD must contain no more than 0.3% concentration of delta-9 THC. Product labels should declare concentrations of cannabinoids contained in the product.
Yet, in a recent study with 25 over the counter products tested, 15 contained levels of CBD well under the amounts listed on the label and 3 of them contained over the Federally legal limits of THC (Gurley et al., 2020)! Additionally, 4 of the products contained synthetic cannabinoids and adulterants, presenting potential adverse consequences to consumers’ health. In this study, most product label claims were determined to be fraudulent. The labels did not accurately reflect the actual CBD content of the product. What’s more, FDACS has found lead levels exceeding legal limits in 6-8% of products tested. Consumers should be cautions of product claims.
For additional assurance in Florida, CBD from Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) dispensaries are strictly regulated by the Florida Department of Health. These Department of Health approved CBD products are only available for purchase through an MMTC. Furthermore, only State approved patients, registered through the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, are eligible to purchase them.
Consumers of CBD products should carefully review the contents and quality standards reported for the product. This quality standards report should be provided through a 3rd party to help consumers confirm what is on the label is what’s in the product or that common contaminants are not found. These types of assurances are essential when it comes to safe use of CBD products and maximum benefit to an individual’s health and wellbeing.
Congressional Research Service. 2019. Defining Hemp: A Fact Sheet. CRS Report R44742. https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R44742.pdf
Lee, Martin A. 2021. Cannabis versus Hemp. Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/guidance/cannabis-versus-hemp
Gurley, Bill J., Timothy P. Murphy, Waseem Gul, Larry A. Walker & Mahmoud El Sohly.2020.Content versus Label Claims in Cannabidiol (CBD)-Containing Products Obtained from Commercial Outlets in the State of Mississippi,Journal of Dietary Supplements,17:5,599-607,DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2020.1766634
USDA ERS. 2000. Identification: Industrial Hemp or Marijuana? In Industrial Hemp in the United States: Status and Market Potential. AGES-001E. Washington, DC. https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/41740/15852_ages001eb_1_.pdf
December 2, 2021
Thanks for this article. I'm in the starting phases of growing hemp here in swfl. I appreciate the insights! Kendra Solow @mindbodyphysique
November 6, 2021
This is great information for navigation through the details. The less confusion about the subject means more people finding a wonderful wellness product
November 5, 2021
looking to partner with any one to cultivate hemp. i had been doing row crops in homestead florida since 1989. i have my license, land and equipment. thanks. ganesh shivbaran. 3054840787
November 5, 2021
An excellent explanation of marijuana, hemp and what to beware of in the myriad CBD products now available everywhere. Good advice to read labels, select carefully and be suspicious of unregulated product claims - similar to all the food products which claim to be “organic “ and “non GMO.” Keep up the good work to educate John Q. Public!
November 5, 2021
Thank you for continuing to educate us in your field of expertise
November 5, 2021
Thank you Lisa, your commentary is very much appreciated.
November 5, 2021
Thank you for your work. ❤️ This is very well written and easy for anyone to understand.
July 27, 2021
Kenneth, I am copying Dr. Alan Chambers, the lead scientist on this research. He can help your comment/question. Alan, his comment was on the TREC blogs. Please reply. Kenneth is copied. This is interesting news. Is there any way of contacting Mr, Chambers directly. I am from Barbados in the Caribbean and am looking for a niche market product to grow on island. Thanks, bradbuck[at]ufl[dot]edu
July 23, 2021
Hi Alicia. Before you cut down your tree, you should notify FDACS-Division of Plant Industry (DPI) at 1-888-397-1517 and Jeff Wasielewski, Commercial Tropical Fruit Crops Agent, UF-IFAS Extension Miami-Dade County at 305-679-0227.
July 5, 2021
Based on the information and photos, my smaller lychee tree definitely has LEM. I’m a private homeowner, not a commercial grower. Should I contact the county and report this? The infestation is extensive and on 2/3 of the branches. Unfortunately, it seems my only recourse is to cut it down so it does not spread to my other tree.
June 28, 2021
I have read articles on new varieties of Vanilla plants being worked on by scientist Alan Chambers. This is interesting news. Is there any way of contacting Mr, Chambers directly. I am from Barbados in the Caribbean and am looking for a niche market product to grow on island.
May 14, 2021
Hi Al. Dr. Carrillo has requested you bring a sample to the Florida Extension Plant Diagnostic Clinic for further analysis. The Clinic is located at our campus, 18905 SW 280 Street, Homestead, Florida 33031. You can review the Clinic's website here: https://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/plantdiagnosticclinic/.
May 3, 2021
I have very tiny black insects, less than a cm long living on my litchee tree. They’re so tiny that’s it’s difficult to see them individually with the naked eye. They live in patches on the trunk. The patches, for lack of better description, look like black under arm hair. When disturbed they do not fly but continues to regroup like a herd. Are they harmful to my tree?
March 29, 2021
Hi Chan. Thank you for your inquiry. Dr. Carrillo has requested you visit this website for the most up to date information: https://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/Lychee-Erinose-Mite/. Thank you.
March 22, 2021
Thank you for your interest! The only document that we have available at this time is Matthew Quenaudon's master's thesis. You can find it here: https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0054534/00001.
March 14, 2021
I have only just seen this on my lychee trees and the leaves are dying. It's spreading to other branches. My tree has only just started flowering. How do I get rid of this to avoid it taking over my entire tree? I have a younger one that's flowering for the first time and want to protect these so badly. Waited more than 10 years for the older one to flower. Help
February 23, 2021
Has this work been published? If so could you please provide a citation. Thank you
September 24, 2018
It is recommended that all infested branches are cut and burn before any acaricide treatment. Pruning is the most important cultural practice against the LEM and the most efficient way to remove infestations. After pruning, removing and destroying infested branches, acaricides can be used to protect new leaf flushes as they emerge and develop. Sprays applied directly to infested leaves and branches provide poor control because of the protection provided to the mites by the erineum. Among the acaricides registered for use in lychee in Florida, the only conventional pesticide registered acaracide proven to work against LEM in other parts of the world is Agri-Mek (abamectin). Agri-Mek is a restricted use pesticide (you must have a pesticide license to use this material) and has a restriction of a maximum two applications per year on lychee. Of the other insecticides known to have activity against LEM, azadirachtin, which is extracted from neem oil provides suboptimal control of this mite. Azadirachtin is labeled for use on lychee and can be used as an alternative acaricide while additional insecticides are being explored. Azadirachtin brand names include Aza-Direct, AzaGuard, Azatrol EC, and Trilogy. Although wettable sulfur has also proven efficacious against this mite, it is not registered for use on lychee at this time. Detailed control recommendations are available at: https://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/Lychee-Erinose-Mite/.
September 7, 2018
What can be sprayed on the tree to kill the invader ??
Comments are closed.