Tisha Flynn displayed the CBD products

Tisha Flynn displayed the CBD products she sells through Hempworx from within her massage studio at Belle Plaine Chiropractic in Belle Plaine.

When Tisha Flynn started to get a migraine at a vendor fair following a car accident two years ago, she was certain she was going to pack up her stall and go home.  But when a fellow vendor offered her a dab of cream containing CBD, cannabidiol, to rub on her neck, the trajectory of her pain treatment as well has her business shifted.

“Ten minutes later the pain was gone, and I walked over to her booth and asked how I can start distributing this.”

The cream Flynn rubbed on her neck, the place from where the pain was beginning to shoot, was the Relief Cream distributed by Hempworx, a Las Vegas-based company that specializes in all things hemp. The cream is just one of many products Flynn sells and swears by that contains CBD,  a hemp derivative legalized under the 2014 Farm Bill and further legitimized by the Farm Bill signed by President Trump in December.

As a massage therapist in Belle Plaine, Flynn has always had a propensity for helping others with their wellness, so when she found a product that she believed would improve peoples’ lives, she jumped on the chance. It didn’t hurt that she felt its benefits on top of that.

“When I started using this, I haven’t had to go to the hospital with a  migraine since November,” Flynn said.

The products Flynn offers through Hempworx vary as much as her customers. Where her older clients might purchase CBD-infused bathbombs for relaxation, a serious athlete in their physical prime might purchase a tincture to help with recovery time between workouts.

A cursory search on Instagram shows that a large portion of professional, elite-level mixed martial arts fighters use or are sponsored by CBD products of their own for that very same reason.

 Further, Flynn has had members of her family turn to the product to aid with physical pain as well as anxiety.

“The main thing that I’m hearing from people is, ‘We want to get off our pills. We want to get off our pain meds, and this is what we’re turning to,’ ” Flynn said.

The positive effects of the products Flynn offered, she said, are numerous. The downsides, on the other hand, are yet to be found, in her view. Flynn stated that the Hempworx line, which includes coffee and other topical creams, won’t harm those who use or ingest them.

Given that hemp is--albeit roughly described as--a cousin with marijuana, the products can contain up to .3% THC, a psychoactive compound also found  in marijuana, which is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill.

“I hear people that are self-medicating with marijuana and they have found this product and they go, ‘Oh, I don’t have to be high to feel good,’ ” Flynn said.

Flynn added that she also offers products that soley contain CBD and not THC for those who are being drug tested or who simply don’t want to take in the chemical.

Too good to be true?

There are swaths of anecdotal evidence to suggest the healing effects of CBD products. But the Food and Drug Administration has yet to exhaustively review the claims made by many CBD companies purporting their products to have anti-anxiety, mood stabilizing or a variety of physical benefits.

Friday, May 31, the FDA held its first hearing on CBD, and with it came conflicting views on the substance. In the meeting that brought top cannabis producers together with the FDA, questions revolving efficacy, safety and industry standardization dominated the discussions. Ostensibly seeing a lack of satisfying answers from industry leaders to the FDA, coupled with a cloud of confusion cast over the industry following the meeting, a number of investors pulled the plug on their cannabis investments. As a result, a number of top companies, including Green Growth Brands, experienced a stock market decrease of around 8% Monday.

Following the meeting, articles on  the internet floated the term “snake oil,” a term meaning a smoke and mirrors fake cure-all, numerous times.

None of this is to say, however, that the FDA decisively concluded that CBD products are ineffective or unsafe.

A process to determine any hardline position of that nature may take years of studies that are just now being launched after generations of hemp products being deemed a schedule 1 illegal substance coupled with cocaine and heroin by the Drug Enforcement Agency. That changed with section 12619 of the most recent iteration of the Farm Bill, according to an analysis from the Brookings Institute.

Additionally, there is a CBD product on the market with an FDA seal of approval that is used to treat epileptic seizures.

Local legality

Belle Plaine Police Chief Tom Stolee stated his department will always align with national and state laws and takes instances of found substances on a case-by-base basis.

“If we run into a case where someone made oil or wax out of illegal marijuana, then we start thinking about the repercussions,” Stolee said, “but it’s all case by case.”

He added that police often encounter mixed substances containing CBD that require further field testing.

Firm believers

This lack of FDA approval has not stopped leagues of consumers to turn to and swear by CBD products, though. Brightfield Group, a market researcher for CBD and Cannabis industries, estimates the industry could balloon to $20 billion by 2020.

Further, Flynn noted that the products she offers are heavily vetted and are shown to be safe when compared to competing products. Where companies in competition with Hempworx use heat to render CBD, Hempwork uses a process involving carbon dioxide, widely known to be cleaner and free from methane and metals, two FDA concerns from Friday’s meeting. Flynn also noted that Hempworx and its growers based in Kentucky have seals of approval from the U.S. Hemp Authority, a regulating body recognized by Forbes to be a legitimate industry watchdog. Hempworx in March along with just 12 other companies got the USHA stamp of approval.

Flynn doesn’t need further convincing that the products work as intended, though, and the believes the products speak for themselves. For those who would call the positive effects a placebo effect, Flynn might offer the example of her elderly cat she gave Hempworx’s CBD to as a retort.

“She’s old. She doesn’t like to do a whole lot. And within a couple days, she wanted to play and interact and get the kids to play with her and stuff,” Flynn said.

Flynn noted that a large number of customers have had similar results with arthritic or aging pets that would not be aware of the intended effects of the substance. Additionally, Hempworx also offers a 60-day money back guarantee.

“I’m not selling something that’s going to hurt anybody,” Flynn said.

Flynn stated that she is one of three or four CBD distributors in Belle Plaine.

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