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Hemp Quality and Why it Matters

Thanks to the wide spreading legalization of its cousin, cannabis, hemp, a plant long-affiliated with beaded necklaces and starry-eyed hippies, is back in the spotlight, and particularly so for its abilities to provide a source of CBD (cannabidiol).

CBD is a naturally occurring, plant-based chemical (aka cannabinoid) that’s increasingly sought for therapeutic benefit due to its different and less intoxicating effects in comparison to its popular sibling, THC (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol).

 

However, while companies scramble to capitalize on this growing trend, the sudden ubiquity of hemp-based CBD options is simultaneously revealing that the quest for industry dominance does not always correlate to a high-quality product.

Why? For two reasons
First, in both Canada and the U.S,  hemp-based CBD is not required by existing federal regulations to be tested* before it’s incorporated into the ever-evolving range of high-value goods such as oils, tinctures, salves, bath bombs, dog biscuits – you name it and a CBD option now appears to be available (mascara and sparkling water included!).

 

And why does testing matter so much? Because hemp can be used for so many different things, it’s important to know how and where it was grown to determine its efficacy as a source of CBD. The intention of the plant’s cultivation is an important indicator. For instance, since hemp is a bioaccumulator, it can serve as a valuable cover crop to help draw out toxins from soil. So while this can certainly be useful for healing a poisoned landmass, it’s not a great source for extracting CBD to use in medicinal products. When grown for medicinal or therapeutic purposes, specific strains of hemp can be cultivated with the purpose of extracting larger amounts of CBD for product development.

“Essentially, due to an existing legal loophole in the regulations, companies can currently source hemp-derived CBD from wherever they want, whether it’s a premium organic farm in their state, or imported from overseas,” says Zoe Sigman, Program Director for Project CBD, a California-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting research on the medical uses of cannabidiol (CBD). “At present, since the quality of the hemp source is effectively unregulated in product development, elements like pesticide residue and heavy metals may be ingested by the consumer without knowing – and concerningly, under the guise that they’re taking something that will provide medicinal or therapeutic relief.”

Now, we know this sounds rather shocking – these little bottles and jars are meant to contain healing and responsibly-processed potions! But let’s take a deep breath, because, thankfully,  there’s a way out of the murk. With interest of offering the cleanest and safest products in the land, many businesses (including Sackville & Co.), are voluntarily maintaining third-party testing to ensure that each batch of their fine CBD goods are regularly evaluated by a neutral source (and yes, working with an unbiased entity is an ideal approach, as in-house testing cannot necessarily be verified as objective fact).

So, what does this batch testing do? Well there are many options. Some test the condition of the hemp extract itself, so if it’s being used for oils, tinctures and the like, there can be a guarantee that this critical ingredient remains consistent in quality and devoid of molds, heavy metals, pesticides and solvents.

Others can hone in on determining the actual amounts of cannabinoids, like CBD, or terpenes to ensure there is accurate dosing and potency for all product development. And responsively, many companies are getting all of this ground covered in just one test. 

As environmental stewardship is more important than ever, yes folks, the location of the source really does matter. Hemp happens to be one of the most durable plants grown in North America, and many businesses are recognizing this by sourcing from locally based organic farms to ensure that their hemp is ecologically grown close to home – including Sackville & Co.! Our team has secured the creme de la creme of CBD sources by working with Tricola Farms, a small-scale, family-run, 10-acre organic farm based less than a few hours away from our NYC HQ!

“Transparency and traceability are two guiding values of our approach to production,” says Tia Tagliaferro, Tricola Farm’s Business Development Manager. “From planting the first seeds to harvesting the flower for extraction, we believe consumers should have every reason to know our methods every step of the way. We hand-cultivate every one of our 18,000 plants and take great care in ensuring that our source of CBD is rich in potency and love.”

Like any other industry, unfortunately misleading claims are being made to sell product, but thankfully organizations like Project CBD exist to educate and empower individuals to understand the #FACTS about WTF hemp-based CBD is all about. Because, truth is, we’re still in the early stages of knowing how this seemingly magical stuff actually works. 

As Peter Grinspoon, MD with Harvard Health Publishing recently wrote, “We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting.”

According to Sigman, the only real way for consumers to understand the quality of a product is to hold companies accountable by asking questions and reading labels carefully. Some key considerations include:

Source
Where does the hemp/cbd came from? What influenced this decision?

Production
How was it produced? Do you use pesticides/synthetic fertilizers?

Testing
Do you regularly test your hemp/CBD source? If so, do you publicize your test results? Could I see your most recent Certificate of Analysis?

Ingredients
What else is in this product? Avoid preservatives/fillers/anything you wouldn’t normally consume!

Certifications
Though hemp can now be certified organic by the USDA, other types of certifications can differ from state to state and do not necessarily guarantee a good quality product.

Do your research, champs, and speak up about what matters to you! After all, knowledge is power and that’s going to help you just as much as finding a damn fine source of CBD.

PS. Check out Project CBD’s resources and consider making a donation to their cause – we need this research to ensure that the industry continues to grow on a progressive path that’s paved with reliable facts and focus.

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