CBD cigarettes are trending in America and Europe, but are there health benefits to this smokable hemp flower?
Hemp is rolling out across the U.S. With the passage of the updated Farm Bill in 2018. And soon agricultural regions across America are going to find themselves buried in silos of this highly versatile crop. But, why is hemp such a big deal in the U.S.? It’s because of a booming wellness industry focused on cannabidiol (CBD). Forbes predicts that American CBD sales are going to reach $20 billion annually by 2024. Tinctures, topicals, and even hemp CBD cigarettes are growing in popularity as natural alternatives to some pharmaceuticals. By association with CBD, hemp is big business.
While the term CBD cigarette is slightly off-putting thanks to its reference to the highly unhealthy tobacco industry, this CBD option is nevertheless popular. Hemp CBD cigarettes are even sold in packs and cartons, like a conventional cigarette.
Despite the namesake, CBD cigarettes are not tobacco products. Smoking a high-quality CBD cigarette is just as safe as smoking a joint. Still, you aren’t alone if you question the value of smoking hemp. Does it have any medicinal benefit? Is it even legal?
CBD Cigarettes From Smokable CBD Hemp Flower
Smokable CBD hemp flower is exactly what it sounds like. It is the cured flower of the hemp plant processed in much the same way as the cured flower of a high THC cannabis plant. The terminology is slightly confusing though. So before we begin, let’s review some definitions.
Hemp comes from the same family as all cannabis varieties. There are three subspecies of cannabis: sativa, indica, and the little-known ruderalis. Medical and recreational cannabis falls into the popular indica and sativa species (or hybrids), while hemp plants are exclusively sativas.
[It should be said, however, that the industry is moving away from the use of these terms in favor of ‘cultivar’ or ‘chemovar.’ This is for two reasons: (1) there are few true indicas and sativas left as most plants are hybrid; (2) the effects of a chemovar has more to do with terpenes. For example, a sativa can be high in the terpene myrcene, making it more relaxing when one would expect a sativa/dominant to be energizing.]
That aside, all sativas are tall, lanky, and sparsely leafed, as compared to indicas. Sativas make great outdoor strains because they grow to have monstrous dimensions. The critical difference between a sativa grown for medical or recreational industry and one grown as a hemp crop is the THC content.
According to federal law, the definition of hemp is cannabis with under 0.3 percent THC. Anything over 0.3 percent THC is technically a Schedule I substance as per the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Controlled Substances Act.
Historically, cultivators have grown hemp for its seeds, stalks, and oils. The structure of the plants reflected this. Now, with the explosion of the CBD market, cultivators are breeding flower-forward hemp with more of a focus on the buds, and higher CBD content. Because of this shift, it’s getting difficult to visually tell a CBD-hemp flower apart from a high THC flower.
CBD cigarettes made from hemp flower are precisely like a traditional joint or blunt but contain only CBD-rich bud from hemp. The differences boil down to technical and legal determination.
Why are People Smoking CBD Cigarettes?
If you haven’t heard, CBD is a powerful medicinal compound found in cannabis. It’s under intense research at the moment, as scientists work out its many therapeutic properties. CBD is currently showing promise as an anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, and anti-seizure compound.
Up until recently, most people chose to take CBD via a tincture, topical, or gummy. Each of these methods is generally considered more suitable for medicinal applications because they don’t require smoking. So why are people now buying packs (or cartons!) of CBD cigarettes?
It would be interesting to survey CBD cigarette smokers to find out what medical condition they are treating and if they have a history of cannabis consumption. New cannabis patients generally steer clear of smokables, yet CBD cigarettes are a growing trend.
Without reliable studies on patient opinions, we can only guess. Maybe, some love the ritual of rolling cannabis joints but can no longer tolerate THC. Others have suggested folks are turning to CBD cigarettes to help wean off tobacco products. Still, others might be switching to CBD cigarettes as a legal alternative to high THC joints.
Is it Legal to Smoke Hemp in the U.S.?
Can you smoke hemp anywhere in the U.S.? Absolutely not.
In many municipalities, it’s illegal to smoke in public — period. In other areas, there is still significant confusion about the legality of hemp at all. Many shipments of pure hemp have been confiscated due to this confusion. Hemp legislation is still working its way into state policy, and there are a lot of kinks to work out.
Technically, at the federal level, hemp is legal in the U.S. But the legislation is still fuzzy on hemp for human consumption. The Food and Drug Administration is tackling the question and legality of CBD products as we speak.
Does a CBD cigarette qualify as a CBD crop, a medicinal product, or contraband? It’s not yet clear and probably comes down to the personal opinion of the police officer you encounter.
As the Denver City Attorney’s Office told Westword in a recent article on the topic, “Generally, if an officer has probable cause to believe someone is publicly consuming marijuana, he or she could ticket that individual on those grounds.”
CBD cigarettes and high THC cigarettes look and smell remarkably similar. It’s best to wait and see how the FDA rolls out CBD regulation before pushing your luck. If North Carolina is any indication, hemp flower might not be legal everywhere, yet.
What are the Benefits (or Health Risks) of Smoking Hemp?
While there is not much information on the benefits of smoking hemp CBD cigarettes, we can presume the benefits are similar to other methods of consumption.
That means if you take CBD for any number of medical conditions (high blood pressure, pain, anxiety, mood disorders, and more), smoking a CBD cigarette will likely work as well as a tincture, capsule, or edible.
Are there health risks to CBD cigarettes? Although smoking cannabis carries none of the many serious health risks associated with smoking tobacco products, smoking is still smoking.
Smoking brings particulate into your lungs, which increases the risk of bronchitis and increases phlegm production.
There are also risks associated with industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is grown as a non-consumable, meaning it might be used for its fibers and stalks but not as something for humans to eat or smoke.
Hemp is a natural bioaccumulator, so it pulls toxins, pollutants, and heavy metals from its environment. If you are smoking CBD cigarettes from an industrial crop, does it contain higher levels of these substances? Do your homework to ensure you are consuming human-grade, organic, non-GMO hemp cigarettes.
The Bottom Line on Smoking CBD Flower
Smoking CBD flower is a rising trend and a curious one. Fewer people are smoking these days, instead choosing edibles, vapes, and tinctures.
Still, everyone is interested in the healing properties of CBD, and CBD cigarettes are a new way to reap those benefits. As many old-timers will tell you, there is something to be said about the ritual of rolling a joint. Perhaps a CBD cigarette feels comfortable and familiar while delivering medicinal benefits without the high.
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