SOURCE : The Week
Jersey becomes first place in British Isles to legally make cannabis oil from hemp flowers
The island of Jersey has become the first place in the British Isles to grant a licence for farmers to harvest hemp flowers for cannabis oil.
The licence, according to The Guardian, has been granted to a group of hemp farmers on the island who have been growing the cannabis plant for three years.
Three men – a former Royal Marine commando and two former colleagues – “hit upon the idea” of extracting CBD oil from hemp six years ago when they were working as firefighters in Jersey.
The trio became intrigued by Hempcrete, a fire-resistant sustainable building material derived from the core of the hemp plant, and later left the fire service to set up Jersey Hemp, a start-up company cultivating and producing hemp.
“Until now, the farmers had been using CBD oil in some of their products – but they had to import the substance from outside of the UK,” says ITV News.
The government of Jersey has now granted Jersey Hemp a licence for CBD extraction, which will allow the company to utilise the whole of the plant, as opposed to just the stems and seeds.
David Ryan, Jersey Hemp’s chief executive, said the decision would “allow us to supply products made using CBD with clear British Isles provenance to retailers and direct to the public”.
“The market for CBD products is growing rapidly as it becomes increasingly recognised for its nutritional benefits and for general wellbeing,” he said.
The number of people using CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol, in the UK alone is estimated to stand at around 300,000. As GQ magazine says, “thanks to a brand reimagining and increased medical research”, the naturally occurring compound has “gone from dangerous to desirable”.
Advocates of CBD oil say it can relieve chronic pain and inflammation, anxiety, depression, insomnia and epilepsy. But others say its benefits are oversold and unproven, while many others are confused over its legal status.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is CBD oil?
Cannabis plants are made up of more than 100 different cannabinoids, chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the human brain. These have different impacts on the body and are concentrated to different extents in certain parts of the plant, the BBC reports.
The most well known of the compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
In the UK, it is possible to get a prescription for oil made from CBD because it won’t get users “high”. By contrast, THC is a psychoactive chemical and is a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Why and how is it used?
A 2017 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that CBD could provide relief for a variety of debilitating conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer and diabetic complications, as well as general pain, anxiety and depression.
“There isn’t enough evidence to say that the oil definitely does help with these things, nor that simply cramming some in a milkshake will do the slightest bit of good, just that doctors are optimistic about their research,” says lifestyle magazine The Street.
One recent study has also now linked CBD oil to healthy weight loss. The research, published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, linked the drug to three causes of “fat browning”, which turns the dangerous white fat associated with obesity and diabetes into hard-working brown fat cells. These actively aid weight loss by burning extra calories through thermogenesis, your body’s heat-production process.
What’s more, CBD “reduces the expression of proteins involved in creating new fat cells, and it boosts the number of mitochondria in your brown fat cells”, says Men’s Health. This could further increase their fat-stripping power, the scientists suggest.
However, it is important to note that licences for CBD oil as a medicine have not been granted yet, and manufacturers cannot make claims about their alleged medical benefits.
CBD oil can be used in a number of different ways, says health information site Verywell. “You can smoke it (typically in vape pens), take it in capsule form, use it sublingually (under the tongue), use oral sprays or drops, or apply it topically to your skin,” the site explains.
“A crystalline form of pure CBD is also available, and it’s generally taken sublingually.”
CBD is available in a range of products sold on the high street and online, including creams, oils, tinctures and edible treats such as gummy sweets. There are even CBD-infused pillowcases and yoga classes offering CBD-assisted guided meditation.
The medical effects of CBD aside, “in many cases, the industry is taking consumers for a ride”, says Mike Power in The Guardian. He cites lab tests commissioned by the think tank Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) which analysed high-street offerings and found that more than half of the most popular CBD oils sold do not contain the level of CBD promised on the label.
Yet market research by the CMC estimates that the CBD market in the UK could be worth almost £1bn a year by 2025, “equivalent in size to the current entire UK herbal supplement market”, writes Power.
But is it legal?
As Business Matters notes, there is currently “a great deal of confusion around CBD oil UK law”, with the vast majority of cannabinoids listed as controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
However, CBD is an exception and is completely legal in the UK, “provided it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved”, says NetDoctor. These strains contain very little to no THC.
For CBD oil to be legal in the UK, it must contain no more than 0.2% THC, and the THC must not be easily separated from it. By contrast, cannabis oil, which has a higher THC content, is not usually allowed in the UK.
There is an exemption to this rule, the BBC reports. Sativex, a 50-50 mix of THC and CBD produced in a lab, has been approved for use in the UK as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.
And specialist clinicians are allowed to prescribe other cannabis-derived medicinal products under changes to the law that came into force in November.
However, medicinal cannabis is currently unlicensed – so it can only be prescribed if a patient has a need that cannot be met by licensed medicines.
One of the arguments against the use of the medication “is that there have not been satisfactory drug trials to prove its safety and effectiveness”, reports the BBC’s Debbie Jackson.
In The Guardian, Mike Power writes: “There is now no denying the medicinal value of CBD and THC – not even by the British government, which for years maintained that lie even as it rubber-stamped the cultivation and export of the world’s largest medicinal cannabis crop. But the landmark decision in November 2018 to allow UK doctors to prescribe cannabis under extremely limited circumstances, inspired by the cases of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, whose epilepsy is improved immeasurably by medicinal cannabis products containing both THC and CBD, has left many in a limbo: knowing or believing that cannabis offers a cure, yet remaining unable to access it.”
This has resulted in a number of high-profile cases of parents taking their children out of the UK in order to access treatment.
One such parent is Julie Galloway, who left Scotland with her severely ill daughter Alexa, seven, almost 12 months ago to live in the Netherlands.
“I feel like a refugee forced to live abroad to save my child,” Galloway told the BBC. “I want to come home but I am terrified the medication will be confiscated. I am struggling to pay for it and I know this can’t go on forever.”
SOURCE: This article was written first appeared on the Week.