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Marijuana in Natural Products Industry

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by Matt Storey -

Following this article on Nutraceuticals World, Vitafoods Insights asked Matt Storey, director of global business development at CW Hemp, to respond to this question:

Is there an appropriate role for marijuana in the natural products industry?

Here, Matt answers:

Quite simply, not currently.

There has been and absolutely will continue to be a role for hemp and hemp-derived products. This article does cover somewhat the difference between hemp and marijuana and that both can be produced from the same cannabis sativa plant but does fall a little short on fully laying out the complexity of the original question as it relates to the natural products industry. Until the classification of cannabis as an illegal drug is changed, there can be no role for ‘marijuana’ in our industry. The problem that the scheduling creates is both a lack of research to satisfy the needs of legislators as well as natural product manufacturers and consumers, as well as the inability to critically look at the benefits of the myriad of cannabinoids beyond tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and even cannabidiol (CBD).

It took lawmakers and regulatory bodies long enough to figure out consumers wouldn’t get high on hemp milk and other natural food products derived from this plant. The available research around the cannabis plant—limited as it is by the extreme difficulty of doing controlled trial research—absolutely suggests positive health benefits in a number of different areas. This is why the current drug classification is troublesome and a cruel twist of irony in that it prevents more quality research to understanding the potential health benefits completely. Anecdotally and observationally, there is no doubt that cannabis—both as hemp derived products and higher THC marijuana—has helped thousands of people where pharmaceuticals have failed. For this reason, the question really needs to be ‘Is there an appropriate role for cannabis in the natural products industry’ and the answer is yes!

I think it is certainly appropriate to take time and gather more quality research and hold off introducing any higher THC marijuana products into the natural product realm but what people need to understand there are therapeutic compounds in this plant that have nothing to do with ‘getting high’ or having psychotropic effects. Those compounds—derived from low THC hemp—should be freely available in food or supplement form for natural product consumers as part of their daily health regimen to support optimal wellness.

For the naysayers, I would ask why we have an entire receptor system in our bodies designed to receive and react to these molecules—the endocannabinoid system (ECS)—if we are supposed to avoid this plant and its beneficial phytocannabinoids? Is marijuana or are hemp-derived cannabinoids for everyone? Of course not, but to say that there is no medical benefit is just factually incorrect. As the article points out very clearly from those opposed, there is either a cognitive dissonance or lack of education about the difference of marijuana versus hemp and our industry needs to be clear on that. Hemp-derived cannabinoid products have the potential to be the natural products industry’s next big superstar ingredients!

To hear more from Matt on cannabidiol and the emerging European CBD market, listen to this podcast.