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The ABCs of CBD: Green Therapy team answers questions about CBD, CBG and more

Can taking CBD cause you to fail a drug test? What's the difference between CBD and CBG? Why is your product so expensive, when I can buy CBD oil at a convenience store? The owners and staff at Green Therapy Center in Fargo are happy to answer those questions, and more, in their effort to educate the public.

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The Green Therapy team reminds consumers that it is essential for any CBD product to have a Certificate of Analysis, which shows the product was examined by an accredited, third-party lab and contains the advertised amount of CBD. Tammy Swift / The Forum
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WEST FARGO — It’s been over a year since Green Therapy Center opened its doors at 816 24th Ave E. in West Fargo, and in that time, Justin Kolling and Dave Klier have heard it all.

Can taking CBD cause you to fail a drug test? What’s the difference between CBD and CBG? Why is your product so expensive, when I can buy CBD oil at a convenience store for $5?

Kolling, Klier and the rest of the Green Therapy team never mind answering these questions, as they view education to be as vital to their business as the CBD-based oils, tinctures, creams, gel caps, balms, gummies and other products they sell.

“We want to be a resource for people so we can educate them on the differences of CBD,” says Kolling, an operating partner for the center. “I’ve had it before when truck drivers came in and told us what kind of CBD they’re taking, and they don’t know they’re taking something that has a trace amount of THC, because their friend told them to get it. Educating and finding the right product for the person is very, very important, and that’s the whole education piece that we provide.”

Green Therapy has arguably one of the largest and most local CBD concerns in the area, as its hemp plants are grown in southern Minnesota and the company manufactures, bottles and sells its own line of CBD products under the brand name Hone.

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That degree of investment has made it necessary for Kolling and owner Jared Day to do their homework and understand their product. They avoid making misleading health claims and have their products analyzed by a third-party, accredited lab for accurate labeling. Their business also is routinely inspected by state Department of Agriculture officials, who even ensure that demonstration hemp plants they grow in their store are destroyed before they can develop too much THC.

In efforts to build understanding of CBD, The Forum recently posed questions to Kolling, Klier and Day about the differences, benefits and regulations on this non-intoxicating relative of THC. (Answers have been edited for space.)

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Sales associate Dave Klier (left) and Justin Kolling, operating partner of Green Therapy Center in West Fargo, use these demonstration plants to illustrate the difference between CBD-dominant and THC-dominant strains in cannabis. Tammy Swift / The Forum

Q. What is CBD and why do people use it?

A. “CBD is cannabidiol, a cannabinoid that is a part of a group of a bunch of cannabinoids (found in the cannabis plant)," says Klier, a Green Therapy sales associate. "CBD is really well-known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsant properties. ... It’s not synthesized. It’s an extract. It’s completely natural to the plant itself. It’s intrinsic to it.

According to DwellCBD.com , Harvard-trained chemist Roger Adams successfully extracted CBD from cannabis as early as 1940. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, called “the godfather of cannabis research,” then carried on Adams’ work, and by 1963, had described the chemical structure of CBD. This discovery helped scientists demystify the chemical structure of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) a year later. This finding was significant — linking psychoactive and euphoric effects to THC while clarifying that CBD isn't an intoxicating compound.

Q. Explain the difference between hemp and cannabis plants.

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A. Technically, "cannabis is cannabis," Kolling says. It's all derived from Cannabis sativa, although they may be called different names according to their uses. As defined by U.S. federal law, non-psychoactive hemp (also commonly termed " industrial hemp "), regardless of its CBD content, is any part of the cannabis plant that contains no more than .3% THC on a dry-weight basis.

Today, depending on whether growers wish to produce marijuana or CBD products, they are able to select different varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant that are either THC-dominant or CBD-dominant.

Q. So how does CBD affect us differently than THC does?

A. Kolling: "Anything higher than the .3 THC percentage, you’ll get more of that head intoxication. When it’s lower than .3 percent, you’re feeling that body relaxation and relief, but you don’t have to worry about putting two hours away from your day for the head buzz to go away. You can use it during the day and still function."

Klier: "Someone called it a runner’s high. You can still be super-effective, you can still do everything, but you get like a runner’s high in a sense."

Q. How does it work?

A. Humans, and all mammals, have a natural receptor system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which allows for cellular communication and regulation as a way to maintain balance within our bodies, Kolling says. The ECS monitors a broad range of our functions and processes, from sleep and mood to appetite, metabolism and memory.

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The Green Therapy store is filled with posters and visual aids that educate customers on how CBD interacts with the human body. By Tammy Swift

The ECS is made up of three components: endocannabinoids, which are native to the body; receptors that endocannabinoids bind to, and enzymes that break endocannabinoids down to elicit a bodily response.

It's believed phytocannabinoids like CBD can trigger therapeutic responses in the body by binding to those receptors. THC, another powerful phytocannabinoid, can also bind to receptors, but can also spark negative effects, such as anxiety and paranoia.

Research shows that CBD may actually help offset some of the negative side effects of THC by activating a reverse response when it binds to certain receptors.

Kolling and Klier compare CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system to that of a series of keys that work in certain “locks." Certain elements of CBD may unlock receptors, or locks, that regulate pain, nausea, depression or anxiety, or an even larger combination of symptoms.

Q. We're seeing more products with CBG. What is that?

A. “CBG is cannabigerol, a specific cannabinoid that has really, really good properties with inflammation and anxiety," Kolling says. "It's really good for uplifting, yet also helps you feel calm. What we’re actually practicing too is we have CBD, and then we’re adding CBG to make it more potent.”

According to Verywellmind.com , CBG is often referred to as the “mother of all cannabinoids” because all other cannabinoids are derived from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), an acidic form of CBG.

CBG is believed to work by binding to both types of ECS receptors where it’s thought to strengthen the function of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in enhancing pleasure and motivation, regulating appetite and sleep, and alleviating pain.

Besides helping alleviate inflammation and anxiety, some research suggests CBG can significantly reduce intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma.

Q. What is the difference between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and isolate?

A. The terms can be confusing, but they're important to understand as they can determine whether or not you'll inadvertently fail a drug test.

"One of my personal pet peeves is isolate," Klier says. "Now an isolate means there’s only one cannabinoid in there -- there’s CBD. CBD has its benefits, but it really only attaches to one receptor in the body. When we incorporate different cannabinoids, we have an entourage effect that allows it to attach to both sides of the system."

An "entourage effect" is the theory that a beneficial, synergistic effect occurs when the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes and botanical compounds are consumed together, as they are in the following formulations:

Broad spectrum formulations contain multiple cannabis plant extracts, including essential oils, terpenes , and other cannabinoids, but no THC.

Full-spectrum also offers all the other cannabinoids, including up to .3% Delta 9 THC. It can be effective in cases where a customer has multiple, significant health concerns, Kolling says.

While this small percentage of THC isn't typically enough to make someone feel "high," Kolling cautions it could make you fail a drug test.

Q. What about Delta 8? My understanding is it's illegal but some stores continue to sell it.

Delta 8 is a minor cannabinoid that's been linked to certain positive benefits, such as a sense of calm and clarity. However, it naturally appears in such tiny amounts in the plant that it wasn't worth the effort needed to extract it. More recently, it was found Delta 8 could be synthesized entirely from CBD with use of solvents. Once this technology spread, users reported that Delta 8 could produce a mild euphoria, without the paranoia and anxiety sometimes caused by Delta-9-THC. It became a runaway market hit.

Recently, though, more states have started to ban it, citing lack of research into its psychoactive effects. One common concern was that testing showed Delta-8 products often contained unidentified compounds and cannabinoids like Delta-9 THC. North Dakota joined those states in banning Delta 8 products last spring when House Bill 1045 was signed into law. This law prevents state-licensed hemp growers and processors from creating or selling products that have undergone "isomerization" — a chemical process that transforms cannabidiol, better known as CBD, into THC.

Day says Green Therapy cleared out their Delta 8 products after the bill became law, but that some local outlets continue selling them anyway.

"That's my biggest frustration as an owner is that we continue to try and take the high road, but you're seeing that ... some consumers sometimes don't care ... Some say, screw it, I just want to get high, so they go and buy Delta 8. And anyone around town who is selling Delta 8 -- they're selling it because they can."
One of the challenges, Day adds, is that it would take major resources to track down every product that might contain Delta 8 in the state. "It's hard and frustrating because who is out there regulating it? It's not the state's fault. They just don't have the manpower and the finances to regulate the stuff."

"We’re a shop that’s really going after the health and well-being and benefits of what this plant does, not just selling you something to get you high. That’s not our MO."

Q. How can I make sure I’m buying good-quality CBD?

A. When it comes to CBD labels, what you see isn't always what you get. The FDA doesn't regulate CBD labels yet, so some fly-by-night companies play fast and loose with the facts.

In one study, as reported by Alternate Medical Media , researchers analyzed 84 CBD products from 31 online companies. They found that 36 products contained more CBD than on the label, while 22 products contained less CBD than on the label. The biggest concern here is when products contain THC without consumers realizing it.

Day and Kolling urge consumers to check for the following details on labels:

  • A Certificate of Authenticity (or a QR code that takes you to a CoA): The CoA is proof that the product was tested by an accredited, third-party laboratory and the contents meet advertised specifications. It should also share information such as the concentrations and variety of cannabinoids present in the product.

  • Milligrams and serving size. This will help you determine how much you need to take to get a decent dose of CBD. Keep in mind that oils and tinctures often list the total amount of CBD in one bottle, but don’t break it down into serving sizes.

  • Words like ‘hemp extract’ or ‘hemp oil,’ as these phrases allow the CBD manufacturer to sell CBD products with no CBD in them.

  • Credibility of seller. Stick to manufacturer’s websites, national drug stores and companies that have a track record specializing in CBD.

  • Suspiciously low pricing. Growing, cultivating, harvesting and packaging CBD product is difficult and expensive. If you are buying cheap CBD products, you may not be getting the full dose the label claims, if any at all.

Related Topics: SMALL BUSINESS
Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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