Congress passed the 2018 farm bill in December, it legalized industrial hemp as a crop plant, used as fibre, grain, oil or other raw products.
According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, applications to grow legal hemp in the state have substantially increased since the beginning of the year 2019.
Hemp is a plant that belongs to the cannabis genus with high levels of CBD or cannabinoid which has an array of potential health benefits. It can help treat ailments like stress, depression, anxiety and even cancer. CBD is a non-psychoactive component which does not cause any high.
Stigma Hemp, nestled in the hip and vibrant North neighbourhood in Minneapolis offers a wide variety of CBD oils and CBD massages. Josh Maslowski, the store owner says that people are buying CBD based products from a number of sources but Stigma Hemp offers an alternative. Josh has applied in the state to grow his own hemp, he uses Kentucky grown hemp currently.
“The timing of it had certainly something to do with the farm bill,” Maslowski said. “But the idea of a retail store was always something I wanted to do because I believe that people have a lot of questions and they want to be able to look somebody in the eye versus just buying it online where you don’t trust exactly who’s making it.”
Jacob Frey, Minneapolis Mayor attended the store opening with the motive of addressing people about the recreational use of marijuana in the state.
“Minneapolis is a forward-thinking city, and yes, CBD is part of that forward-thinking vision,” Frey said.
The Minnesota Hemp Association reports there are a bunch of spas and grocery stores that carry CBD products. At least five companies are operating stores that sell only hemp and CBD based products in the Twin cities. Walgreens recently announced that it will sell CBD products including creams, patches and sprays in nearly 1,500 states across the country.
Assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Whitney Place, said farmers responding to the new markets made possible by legal hemp.
“It’s no longer considered a controlled substance. Therefore, our farmers can qualify for federal programs like specialty crop grants or even crop insurance,” she said.
Minnesota arranged a pilot program for hemp production which was federally approved in 2016 including 6 participants who harvested about 40 acres of hemp. So far in 2019, the state has received almost 370 applications for about 6,000 proposed outside acres for hemp production by farmers.
The amount of proposed space for indoor growing has grown nearly twelves times – increased from 55,000 square feet last year to nearly 700,000 square feet so far this year.
State officials claim that people who grow indoors are also cultivating hemp. But, the executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, Cody Wiberg said that the department does not have the resources to pursue legal action unless specific complaints arise against CBD companies.
“We hope that either Congress or the Legislature will put some minimal requirements in place so when people buy a product and it says 5 milligrams of CBD, they’re relatively assured that it has 5 milligrams of CBD and that it doesn’t have contaminants,” Wiberg said.
Nonetheless, the Food and Drug Administration still considers CBD based products as an illegal substance. Cody says that FDA has strictly denied the distribution of CBD based products as dietary supplements and that nobody is regulating the companies that are selling CBD products.
Also, there is no verification regarding the components of these products nor does anyone know how they would react with other drugs and medicines.
“CBD is pharmacologically active, it acts in the body like it’s a drug and it is metabolized by certain enzymes in the liver that also metabolize roughly 50 to 60 percent of all the other drugs that are out there,” Wiberg said.
Though the FDA has approved CBD oil to treat epilepsy in children, the constant worry about other products stays afloat.