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Officials discover millions of cannabis plants, worth $1B in ‘black market’ value

Millions of cannabis plants in California with ‘black market’ value of $1B seized and destroyed

Hemp legalization has created a buzz in the American market and it’s no surprise that businesses are rigorously integrating or adopting cannabis in their products. From skincare to the sports industry, there are ample segments that have joined the CBD bandwagon. But what’s more interesting is the rise of illegal marijuana agriculture in the United States. 

A recent investigation in California across several hemp fields revealed about 10 million illicit marijuana plants, with an estimated “black market” value of over $1 billion. Authorities seized and destroyed the entire field, said officials on Thursday. 

The Kern County Sherrif’s Office posted on Facebook saying that authorities had searched across 11 different fields, situated about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, in the Arvin area, on October 25. They went through around 459 acres of land with the help of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and FBI. 

The sheriff’s office said that the alleged hemp plants were being grown under the appearnace of a legitimate cannabis operation. When samples were taken to evaluate the content and chemicals of the plant, it was discovered that the psychoactive compound, THC, was way above than the legal threshold. 

Officials claimed that while it is legal to produce industrial hemp in Kern County, people have to adhere to the rules set for growing hemp. The highest level of psychoactive compound allowed is 0.3 percent, according to the sheriff’s office. Any commercial sale of cannabis or hemp which exceeds this threshold is considered illegal. 

Feds have been concerned about the legality status of hemp and how it can be used legitimately as businesses sprawl across the country. The Farm Bill passed in December 2018 that legalized hemp cultivation for public use also mentioned the threshold limit of THC as 0.3% per unit. THC or tetrahydro cannabidiol is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis that is responsible for causing hallucinations. It gives users an ecstatic feeling of ‘high’ when they smoke a joint or consume marijuana in any form. 

Cannabis has been a taboo for decades. People have associated mental health disorders, physical disorientation and other health problems with the use of marijuana. While this is true that marijuana in its raw form can produce mind-altering chemicals and affect your neural system, it is not all bad. 

Hemp, a cannabis genus plant has ample health benefits. It was traditionally used to make strong fabrics, construction materials, ropes, paper, cosmetic as well as food products. However, in recent times, hemp has been touted for producing CBD, or cannabidiol. 

CBD is one of the most eminent and popular chemicals in hemp. It is known to have ample medical benefits. CBD also possesses anti-inflammatory and non-psychoactive properties. 

Many people have found CBD to be significantly effective in treating mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and even Tourettes. CBD has been used for treating an array of diseases ranging from acute pains, aches, inflammation, injuries, swelling, to life-threatening ailments such as cancer

While some people are delving into the medical benefits that CBD offers, others still remain doubtful of the effects it might have. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there is a long way to go when it comes to research about CBD and its effects. The FDA has organized a public meeting on May 31, discussing about the use of cannabinoids, taking in opinions from doctors, researchers, business leaders, and many others. 

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However, there’s no stringent documentation from the FDA that clearly states the legality of CBD usage. 

Now since hemp has almost outgrown its taboo perception amongst the public, it has become a wildly popular ingredient. People are now using CBD in their everyday meals, in their pet’s meals, as medicines, in protein shakes, in pizza, burgers, cookies, skincare lotions, soaps and what not! Companies are expanding into the CBD segment, and taking the consumer market by a storm. 

There are many celebrities who love CBD and advocate for its products including the beauty mogul Kim Kardashian, her sister Kylie Jenner and the famous actress Jennifer Aniston. It’s not just the beauty industry that’s going crazy about CBD and its miraculous effects, but even athletes consider taking CBD for a healthy life now. 

While there have been many medical reports that show significant improvement in the overall health of CBD users, doctors and researchers say that there’s plenty of untapped information about CBD. 

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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