CBD Oil: What You Need to Know
By Yewande Okuleye
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that Cannabidiol (CBD) oil—a concentrated oily extract made from cannabis—can help treat a variety of ailments. It's said to help with everything from epileptic seizures to opioid addiction, PTSD to arthritis.
But despite CBD oil's high profile status, there's still a lot of confusion about what it actually is, and what it's made from. Certain types of CBD oil are already legally available in the UK—such as those made from hemp—whereas other types are very much illegal in the UK—though are available to buy in other countries
CBD oil extracted from hemp is often marketed as a food supplement to promote well-being—similar to other herbals like Echinacea—and boost the immune system. Although Hemp CBD oil is legal, it is not a medicine and should not be confused with the recent confiscation of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell's CBD oil at Heathrow airport.
Billy had flown with his mother to Canada to buy the CBD oil—which helps to keep his daily epileptic seizures at bay. But his oil was confiscated because it was made from cannabis flowers and leaves, and so was classed as illegal in the UK, pushing childhood epilepsy and CBD oil into the spotlight.
Cannabis Law Explained
So far, so confusing, but part of the problem is that terms like cannabis and hemp are often used interchangeably—which masks the nuances and complexities of the cannabis plant.
Cannabis sativa L, the scientific name of the cannabis plant, is cultivated to produce two distinctive products—industrial hemp, and cannabis. The main difference between hemp and cannabis is based on two criteria. First, the levels of cannabinoids—a family of chemical compounds, the cannabis plant naturally produces—and second, the end use.
According to current UK drug laws, cannabis is classified as an illegal drug because of the psychoactive properties of THC, the component in it that creates the "high." And under UK law, cannabis is deemed to have a high potential for abuse—with no accepted medical properties.
Hemp vs cannabis
But this is where it gets even more confusing because cannabis can be bred to create different strains. Cannabis consumed for recreational purposes is selectively bred to optimize high THC content strains—to maximize the "high" feeling. But cannabis also contains CBD, which is a non-psychoactive component.
Hemp, on the other hand, is harnessed as seed, oil and fibre to produce a wide range of products. It is cultivated to produce a low concentration of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC—as well as higher levels of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD.
Cannabis is classified as hemp if it has a maximum level of 0.2% THC. Billy's CBD oil, confiscated at Heathrow, was made from cannabis with a higher level than 0.2 percent of THC—so it was classed as cannabis, which is why it was confiscated.
A recent survey conducted by Sky News found that 82 percent of their poll subjects agreed that medical cannabis should be legalised. Prof. Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, who was appointed to investigate the current scientific and medical evidence, about the therapeutic properties of cannabis-based products, also believes this. She recently said that "doctors should be able to prescribe" cannabis.
Davies has recommended the removal of cannabis from schedule one classification—which covers a group of drugs considered to have no medical purpose, that cannot be legally possessed or prescribed.
In Billy Caldwell's case, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, made the decision to grant Billy access to imported CBD oil. This fresh approach to reconsider the classification of cannabis has been seminal, and mirrors wider sentiment in other countries. In the US, for example, medical cannabis programs have been initiated in 30 states. Hence, medical tourism to Canada—where cannabis is legal for medicinal purposes—and the U.S. to gain access to organic CBD oil.
In the UK, however, Sajid Javid will not reclassify cannabis until the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs provides recommendations about the public health implications—which will include the abuse potential of cannabis-based CBD. Though it seems very likely that the home secretary will continue to move towards a patient focused resolution.
For patients like Billy then, what this means is that cannabis-based CBD oil could soon be prescribed in the UK under controlled conditions, by registered practitioners, and for medical benefit.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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