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CBD Ubiquity 

Congress looks to legalize hemp and CBD products for 2019

If you've noticed a sudden explosion in the popularity of CBD products lately, you're not just seeing things. The 2018 Farm Bill awaiting a vote from the Senate will likely legalize industrial hemp in all 50 states and open the door to make 2019 the year of CBD.

Gov. Doug Ducey supported and signed a similar law for the state in May, and it seems the federal government wasn't far behind as the House passed the Farm Bill in June.

Of course, cannabis proponents have been aware of hemp's versatility for years, so it's about time the Republicans come around.

Not only can hemp act as substitute in industries for fibers, plastics, oils and even fuel, but it does so while producing more tons per acre with less water than its competitors. That list is long enough to ruffle more than a few embedded industries, but even they'll adapt.

But hemp will also have a major role in the medical industry. While industrial hemp is usually required to have less than 0.3 percent THC, there's no limit on CBD. Already the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a CBD drug called Epidiolex to treat seizures.

Evidently, the only part of cannabis detractors still dislike is the psychoactive effects of THC.

Often new medical patients will prefer the low-THC/high-CBD products for treating conditions such as pain or nausea. Both have physical and psychoactive benefits, but the industry rule of thumb is CBD generally helps with physical conditions and THC helps with the mental ones.

So it only makes sense that you may have noticed CBD-only products showing up in supplement stores and smoke shops, or even several new CBD-dedicated businesses popping up around town.

Unlike the medical cannabis industry, anyone can buy and use CBD products. There's even a decent market for pets. Some people swear by the effect it has on their dogs for conditions like pain.

While the national market for hemp CBD products will top out 2018 at around $591 million, the Brightfield Group estimates it could be worth more than $5 billion in 2019.

But the new offshoot industry isn't without its hiccups.

Similar to cannabis at times, the legality of CBD hasn't always been clear cut. The 2018 Farm Bill helps with that, including a specific provision to remove CBD from the Drug Enforcement Administration's schedule of controlled substances.

More like the cannabis industry, though, CBD products often contain mislabeled concentrations, making it difficult to take consistent doses.

In a test of 84 online products, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found nearly 70 percent were mislabeled. In a sort of silver-lining, most of the mislabeled products had more CBD than the label indicated.

The federal bill also raises the question of felony drug convictions in the hemp industry. As it stands, no one with a drug-related felony will be able to get a license to grow hemp. That means a lot of people who have been doing this for years on the black market won't be able to transition.

Laws differ from state to state on whether felons can get cannabis licenses, but usually such an exclusion expires after, at most, 10 years. But the new federal law bans anyone with a felony from entering the hemp industry for life.

However the new law comes down, one thing is for sure: Hemp and CBD will have a big year in 2019.

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