Baraga-area pharmacist promotes health benefits of CBD products

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Leonard Matusik, a registered nurse and pharmacist living in Baraga County, has been promoting CBD remedies the best way he can think of — by giving away cannabis plants.

Baraga County resident Leonard Matusik says he has already given away about 50 cannabis plants this year.

These plants are the same as marijuana plants grown for their euphoria-inducing THC. They are not hemp plants grown for their fiber. But Matusik has intentionally selected these plants for their production of resin that is rich in cannabidiol (CBD) rather than THC because he wants to promote the beneficial uses of CBD products.

The difference between cannabis, marijuana and hemp is largely a legal one. The federal legal limit for THC since the passage of the 2018 farm bill is 0.3% by weight. Any cannabis plant producing more THC is considered marijuana, illegal under federal law.

Cannabis plants producing less than the limit are considered hemp. The state has set the same standard to separate hemp from marijuana.

Matusik’s plants have not been tested in a lab for THC content, and are not certified as legal under the farm bill. He is working on obtaining farm bill-legal plants that produce more CBD and less THC, and expects to have the seeds to start in mid-May.

Many CBD products already on the market are still technically illegal.

The Brookings Institution says that any CBD product containing even tiny traces of THC have always been federally illegal.

“The DEA’s stance, all along, has been that cannabinoids are marijuana and thus are a Schedule I substance and illegal in all circumstances,” its website reads.

The newly formed Michigan Bureau of Marijuana Regulation says any CBD products with more than .03% THC is a marijuana product, subject to regulation under marijuana law. That means they cannot be sold or produced without a state license.

Additionally, since 2015 the Food and Drug Administration has issued dozens of warning letters that products marketed as containing CBD had less than they claimed, sometimes none at all, and other times contained levels of THC that are illegal under federal law.

According to Project CBD, a nonprofit organization that collects and spreads information about cannabis, this lack of reliability in CBD products could be due to manufacturing from poorly regulated, internationally-sourced hemp.

Hemp plants produce much less resin, the substance cannabis plants contain that is rich in terpenes and cannabinoid compounds, so the oil extraction process requires more plants and the resulting resins are less consistent.

Matusik hopes to solve this issue with CBD products by helping people produce high-CBD products from home-grown cannabis plants.

TOMORROW: The legalities of gifting cannabis plants.