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The unbridled cannabidiol (CBD) market is unfolding in ways that you might not expect in rural states that depend on agriculture, such as areas in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Joe Kirkpatrick is President of the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association. From 2015 to 2017, Kirkpatrick was the chief lobbyist for Tennessee State University cannabis research legislation and assisted in the passage of the industrial hemp pilot program housekeeping bill. He also has had a heavy hand in the role hemp-derived CBD will play in the area’s future.

Senate Bill 1828 would allow CBD-rich industrial hemp leftovers to be fed to livestock in Tennessee. “We did pass a law this year,” Kirkpatrick told CULTURE B2B. “It has yet to be signed by the governor, but it has passed both houses to allow the feeding of industrial hemp to livestock, which previously wasn’t legal.”

People benefit from CBD, but livestock also can benefit from the trace elements that are left behind after the CBD extraction process is completed. “People want to feed the biomass to chickens for better quality eggs,” he said, “But the [Food and Drug Administration] (FDA) still considers hemp an adulterant, and we agree with that language. So now, the interpretation of the law is to sell hemp-fed livestock meat, dairy and eggs, so long as you disclaim that it contains industrial hemp. We’re going to have hemp-fed eggs here in Tennessee pretty soon.”

 “ . . . The difference between CBD derived from industrial hemp versus CBD derived from marijuana is really sort of a nuance. A molecule is a molecule. CBD is CBD.”

Labeling products as containing cannabinoids, as anyone in legal states know, is great for business. “It’s really sort of a marketing opportunity that they’re going to call it an adulterant, because people know that it’s far from the truth,” Kirkpatrick said. CBD-enhanced eggs could be something that are extremely beneficial to human nutrition and won’t get consumers high. As you can imagine, CBD-fed chicken eggs will probably fly off the shelves of grocery stores.

While hemp is suitable for development of textiles, fuel and house-building, one facet of the plant stands out among the rest. “The real profit involved is in high-CBD genetics,” Kirkpatrick explained. “Hopefully some of those profits can be turned into large fiber crops and seed meal and oil crops, because we do need to start competing with Canada on these food products.”

The road to CBD freedom has gone through its ups and downs, most notably in rural areas such as Tennessee, Indiana and Alabama. In the cases of Tennessee and Indiana, seized CBD-infused products were returned to vendors once the cases fell apart in court. But the unintended consequence of CBD raids was a heightened awareness of CBD.

“Operation Candy Crush” was a raid operation on vape shops and grocery stores in Rutherford County, Tennessee, locations which were targeted for allegedly selling CBD-infused candies. Ill-informed law enforcement officers confiscated products containing CBD. On Feb. 12, over 20 stores were shuttered, and their products were confiscated. It was a strange move, considering that the CBD-infused candies contained only hemp-derived CBD and didn’t have any psychoactive effect.

“Those charges were dropped,” Kirkpatrick said. There are civil actions pending against law enforcement, but the law that we passed here in 2017 was upheld by the judge. They had CBD isolate in a lot of the products, and everything was completely compliant. Of course, the difference between CBD derived from industrial hemp versus CBD derived from marijuana is really sort of a nuance. A molecule is a molecule. CBD is CBD. But they were going to say it’s a marijuana-derived product, but they couldn’t prove it. They dropped all the charges on all 21 defendants.”

But the rash of CBD raids had a silver lining, and Kirkpatrick would rather see the positive side of the incidents. “All of this law enforcement misconduct on CBD products has really generated a lot of free publicity and a lot of interest in our industry that didn’t exist previously,” Kirkpatrick said. “Of course I’m sorry for the victims of their overreach, but it’s helped the industry at-large.”

Once law enforcement and others come to a consensus on what defines CBD products, the market is bound to reach new heights.