What I Learned at the CBD Summit

Anaheim, CA — Chances are, if you are interested in what we learned at the CBD Summit held just before the opening of the Natural Products Expo, you know a thing or two about cannabinoids. Just in case this is your first foray into the high growth category, here are the basics. And for you old-timers…in your wildest dreams did you ever think this would be the fastest growing industry — fascinating investors, retailers, researchers, the medical community, marketers, athletes…you name it!?!?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid strain grown from marijuana or hemp without the symptoms of a high. CBD is a hot topic in naturals because it has the medicinal and therapeutic effects cannabis offers without psycho-active properties.

CBD oil is used as a topical in health and beauty products, as well as to infuse in food and beverage products. It has been connected to relief of pain and inflammation.

Entrepreneurs who are on the pulse are flocking to the CBD business, expecting to yield high growth. The industrial CBD industries are expected to top $20 billion by 2020 and hemp-derived CBD is estimated to account for $450 million.

While CBD is receiving major attention, there are still restrictions to growing, manufacturing and selling CBD products.

Attorneys speaking at the event reminded us that cannabinoids and industrialized hemp are not controlled substances and while they are federally legal due to The Farm Act there are maps of how to transport cannabis so you can go around states where the legislation is murky. Everyone agrees, however, the future of the legality of cannabis is looking very positive.

Here are the latest developments heard at today’s CBD Summit:

Get familiar with your Endocannabinoid system – You have a cannabinoid system which is involved in maintaining the homeostasis for every cell in the body.  Cannabis plants produce CBD, which impacts your body, and THC, which is why marijuana makes you high.

ECS or the Endocannabinoid System is the name for a series of cell receptors that respond to certain kinds of agonists. Two primary cell receptors make up the ECS, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). The keys for these receptors are called endocannabinoids.

Michael Murray, Natural Medicine, Health & Nutrition Expert, DoctorMurray.com simplified this concept explaining that the greatest technology in the world is nature.  Currently there is more hype than research. But we do know that stress is disruptive of the endoncanabinoid system and CBD creates the stage for hero ingredients to work.

Retailers and other marketers say that people are interested in CBD because they are looking for help with — in this order — stress, joint pain and lack of sleep. While there are literally thousands, if not millions, of anecdotes, Murray reminded us that more research is desperately needed. There are over 100 double blind studies that show the effectiveness of ginger against pain but none for cannabis.

As scientists sort through the science of cannabinoids, we continue to discover that endocannabinoids help us survive in a quickly changing and increasingly hostile environment, and the cannabinoid system can be enhanced by taking supplemental cannabis. The hope remains that CBD can work beyond treating or curing symptoms and actually prevent disease.

Some hemp is just weeds – According to Josh Hendrix, director of business development at CV Sciences, the focus needs to be on large-scale hemp growth for CBD to have a bright future. If we’re going to do this right, hemp should be grown on farms, not in greenhouses. Scalable agriculture will be key.  Many countries are way ahead of the U.S.  It’s going to take more than the 2014 Farm Bill to really open the U.S. market, a bill that made it legal for farmers to grow hemp — under strict circumstances.

CBD is the next fish oil – That’s the potential if Unna Goods, Neptune Wellness Solutions of Hemp Fusion have anything to do with it.  These brand marketers know exactly what they are doing when it comes to bringing CBD to market. Trust and quality are the two most important ingredients to any product, the same applies to CBD products.  And like with many natural products, education is key.

Mission drives many natural products and CBD is no different.  Jason Mitchell of hempfusion got into the CBD category kicking and screaming that he didn’t believe in it and then went on to watch it heal his auto-immune disease and is a major evangelist. Brad of Brad’s Kale Chips is studying veterans coping with PTSD after hearing that 22 veterans a day commit suicide.

Not everyone agrees on the whole plant theory, some people want to isolate hemp but it has a full spectrum. Hemp has an entire body that has a complete picture with protein, fiber and more, and doesn’t need to be separated. There was also talk about the “entourage effect” on why you need to use the whole plant because every part has important nutrients.  Not everyone agrees and not everyone agrees on the cleanest ways to extract the oil, which also led to heated discussion.

Another big subject is dosage and how much is enough or too much. Delivery is also questionable.  Oral, smoke, topical all work best in different situations. Right now there are a lot of small companies in the game, major players are on the horizon. We’re already seeing CBD in the natural channel and online: 40% of sales are internet based, 28% are natural channel, and 79% are supplements.

The FDA frowns on Facebook Likes – Congress and the DEA continue to fight over medical claims. Whatever you are linked to is considered an implied claim so you need to be careful in promotional materials and social media. If you want to be taken seriously in the industry, you need to meet high quality standards.

Over the next two years, a bill will be passed and federal DEA classification will need changes. More pharmaceutical companies will conduct clinical trials that could lock CBD up as a drug.

Nancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health advocate, a globe-trotting Nancy Trenttrend watcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm with an office in Los Angeles.  Trent & Company grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives.  A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 30 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at nancy@trentandcompany.com.  You may also visit http://www.trentandcompany.com.

NOTE: WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific brand or product. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.