During the last presidential campaign in 2012, I was burning the midnight oil seven nights a week trying to advance the careers of the half dozen rock n’ roll bands I managed. It was during that time that one of my clients, Bill Kreutzmann from the Grateful Dead, first introduced me to cannabidiol, better known as CBD. He used it in a lotion to alleviate the tendonitis he had in his elbow after 50 years of drumming and raved over its efficacy. He explained to me that CBD was a compound derived from hemp, one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the plant. This revelation prompted me to do my own research and I soon learned this compound had therapeutic potential for a wide array of neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, as I soon discovered, the US government has held a patent on these cannabinoids as neuroprotectants and antioxidants since 2003 (Patent US6630507). I knew all I needed to know to leave my life as a music manager behind and dive in to the nascent hemp industry.
In the years since, there’s been myriad of media stories about children and adults experiencing near miraculous results in controlling symptoms of neurological disorders through the use of CBD. We have also heard from a number of professional athletes who publicize their use of CBD to mitigate the physical and mental damage they incurred while performing in their high impact sports. The word is out now: CBD is helping to improve the quality of life for millions of people.
It seems then, at least anecdotally, that CBD can provide therapeutic benefits for all walks of life; from musicians like Bill to military veterans to professional athletes, from infants to the elderly. One could argue this non-toxic, non-psychoactive compound could hold the key to the future of self-care and preventative maintenance for the masses. What then must we do to ensure the success of this exploding industry?
With such great potential on the horizon, producers of CBD products need a comprehensive regulatory framework for which to operate within. The countless success stories created a huge demand for CBD-rich hemp extracts and as a result, hundreds of companies popped up around the country to get their piece of the growing CBD pie. But where and how is the hemp grown that is ultimately used to manufacture these products? What pesticides are used? What is the condition of the soil these plants were grown in? Beyond just the cultivation practices, what quality control systems are in place throughout the extraction and packaging processes?
For this industry to survive long term, producers of CBD-rich hemp extracts should adopt the CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) standards that the US Food and Drug Administration has in place for every other product intended for human consumption. The industry could also greatly benefit from putting systems in place requiring third party testing of raw and finished materials.
The CBD hemp industry has matured to the point where legitimate consumer safety measures should be in place to ensure the purity, consistency, and quality of the products being sold. Until a federal regulatory agency such as the FDA or USDA step in, the onus will remain on CBD manufacturers to produce their products in a manner that is best for the hemp industry as a whole– not just for their bottom line profits.
Ryan Kingsbury is an independent marketing, branding and communications consultant in the cannabis industry. He spearheaded the ‘When the Bright Lights Fade’ campaign, an ongoing effort that has helped drive a national conversation about responsible cannabis use in professional sports. Prior to his work in the cannabis industry, Kingsbury spent 10 years in the music industry as an artist manager.