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LITTLE ROCK -- Hemp and CBD producers are hopeful about the future of the industry in Arkansas.

The first batch of CBD has been processed from the first legal hemp harvest in the state, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Hemp is a member of the cannabis family but with low levels of THC, the compound that gets pot users high. Congress legalized hemp in December. CBD is a chemical compound derived from cannabis plants and users say it can ease pain, anxiety, epilepsy, nausea and hangovers. It doesn't cause a high and is often sold as a dietary supplement. Many see it as a way to better health.

Lejen Lotspeich is the chief scientific officer of New Age Hemp, Arkansas' first operating hemp processor.

"You can smoke as much hemp as you want to try and get high, but all you're going to get is a headache," Lotspeich said.

Nick Landers, CEO of New Age Hemp and a former pharmacist, tried CBD as an alternative treatment for his back pain. It worked so well that he stopped taking his prescription medication, he said.

"I'm a guinea pig because I'm not going to put a product on the market that I haven't tried myself," Landers said.

Landers said he wished that he'd been able to recommend CBD products to patients who were prescribed and later became addicted to opioids.

Kelly Carney is owner of North Pulaski Farms, a small grower of organic fruits and vegetables. He said he got a license to grow hemp because he saw it as an opportunity to supplement his farm income, which has seen margins thin.

"I think for a small farmer, there is a window of opportunity to make some money since (hemp) is so new," he said.

But consumers can face problems because CBD products are largely unregulated. State oversight of processed CBD products stops at ensuring THC levels don't exceed 0.3%.

A 2017 University of Pennsylvania study found that almost 70% of CBD products were inaccurately labeled, claiming CBD levels that didn't match with lab analyses.

The Food and Drug Administration is now assessing how it should regulate CBD. The FDA also is taking public comments online until July 2.

State Desk on 06/09/2019

Print Headline: Hemp farmers, CBD producers hopeful for an industry boom

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