December 20, 2018 — President Donald J. Trump has signed into law the Agriculture and Nutritional Act or Farm Bill, an $867 billion initiative that has had strong bipartisan support.
The bill passed with a vote of 87-13 in the Senate on December 11 and a vote of 386-47 in the House on December 12.
Industrial Hemp Legalized
Among the bill’s provisions is the legalization of industrial hemp, a cannabis strain which is critical to the U.S.’s burgeoning industry of products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychotropic chemical in hemp that its proponents and increasing numbers of scientific studies say has multiple therapeutic benefits, including pain relief.
The CBD industry includes CBD-infused products for topical use, such as pain-relieving creams and salves, as well as oils, tinctures, and nutritional supplements meant to be taken internally.
Many such CBD products are already on the market, but have existed in a legal gray area due to Cannabis sativa, or marijuana, remaining federally illegal. (Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in 10 U.S. states, and for medicinal use in 33 states, reports Business Insider.)
CBD typically comes from industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa indica, a non-psychotropic strain of the plant containing negligible amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which produces the “high” associated with marijuana use.
CNBC reports that CBD could become a $20 billion industry by 2022.
CBD and Chiropractic
Chiropractic Economics has often reported on the use of CBD in the chiropractic industry. Many chiropractors are finding success with using CBD as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain. They are also recommending CBD for a variety of common patient conditions such as anxiety, migraines, chemo related side effects, MS, epilepsy, high blood pressure and more.
While the benefits of CBD are still being explored, the ever-changing legal status of CBD has made some DCs hesitate to recommend the product to their patients. The Farm Bill could change all that.
But it is legal, right?
This has always been the overarching issue regarding cannabidiol because it has existed in a legal gray area for most of its existence. The constant flux of legality is often the reason DCs are wary of recommending it to their patients, despite its numerous benefits.
However, with the passing of the Agriculture and Nutritional Act or Farm Bill, industrial hemp is now legalized. This cannabis strain is critical to the CBD industry. This removes hemp and any hemp derivative from the Controlled Substances Act, legally separating it from marijuana and putting its supervision under the Department of Agriculture.
The Farm Bill is a huge win for the CBD industry but does not create a completely free system where anyone can grow hemp whenever or wherever they want. In order to be classified as industrial hemp, it cannot contain more then 0.3 percent THC. States will also have submit plans to license and regulate hemp to the USDA before operations can commence. But as a DC, you can rest easy knowing that recommending CBD is no longer in legal limbo.
Dosage and protocols for use are largely patient-dependent. Experts advise “starting low and slow.” In one study, participants were given varying doses of CBD prior to giving a public talk—traditionally a highly stressful experience for most people. It was found that increasing the amount of CBD reduced the speakers’ anxiety up to a point, beyond which it had the opposite effect. Therefore, patients should self-titrate to the amount medically efficacious, and sustain their dosage to that degree.
The landscape regarding what is known about CBD and what its therapeutic applications are in a continuous state of flux. At the moment, it appears to be an effective treatment for a variety of conditions, and it has no apparent drug-supplement interactions, tolerance-building effects, or overdose potential. It is extremely safe and well tolerated. Whether you recommend it to patients or not, CBD should be on your radar as a promising supplement for numerous acute and chronic health conditions.
Other Provisions in the Farm Bill
The Farm Bill also expanded some farming subsidies and provided permanent funding for some farmers markets and other food initiatives. An earlier provision that was dropped from the final bill would have imposed new rules and restrictions on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).
Chiropractic Economics will update this article with new information as it becomes available.