Canadian company Naturally Splendid, which has long experience in hemp production, is the latest to move toward marketing a dietary supplement based on cannabidiol (CBD), a non-narcotic fraction of the cannabis sativa plant.
The company, based in Vancouver, BC, plans to establish a Colorado-based subsidiary called Naturally Splendid USA. Colorado has had medical marijuana for several years and voters there more recently passed an initiative making recreational use of marijuana legal in the state as of January, 2014. In keeping with that initiative, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has set up rules for industrial hemp production within the state’s borders. State officials have said that about 1,500 acres of Colorado farmland will be planted to hemp this year.
“Colorado at this point is hemp central, everything from industrial hemp to medical marijuana to everything in between,” Naturally Splendid CEO Craig Goodwin told NutraIngredients-USA.
Naturally Splendid has hired a chief financial officer for the nascent company, Chuck Jenkins. The company is still scouting a location for business operations.
Legality of CBD
Swirling around the whole enterprise is the issue of the legality of Cannabis sativa fractions as dietary supplement ingredients. Medical marijuana rules in Colorado and elsewhere put tight restrictions on supply and end use. And as far as the recreational use in Colorado goes, the plant is still technically illegal on the federal level and is still a scheduled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. Opinions differ about whether that pertains only to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the narcotic fraction of the plant, or whether than means the whole plant, period. Many legal observers take the latter view . For the moment, federal officials in Colorado have taken a hands-off, wait-and-see attitude toward recreational use.
Industrial hemp production in Colorado is regulated based on the THC content of the plants. To qualify as an industrial hemp crop, the plants can contain no more than 0.03% THC.
“Everybody that has been involved in the business has had the intent to separate hemp products from marijuana containing narcotic fractions,” Goodwin said. “I still question where the input will come from, but this is being handled very carefully by our partners. It is a gray area, but we have the opinion from our counsel that we are playing within the rules. This is an industry that is growing we see that other companies have CBD products out in the market,” he said.
Goodwin said the company is still deciding where in the market a CBD supplement might fit. A variety of health effects are ascribed to CBD; as a nutraceutical product it has potential benefits for individuals seeking anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, anti-fungal, anti-bacteria and/or anti-spasm effects without disconcerting lethargy or dysphoria.
“We see very significant promise in the molecule,” Goodwin said. “We see a number of possible different applications. We have just concluding a 250-page marketing study that was done with the aid of the National Research Council of Canada. We plan to combat that barrier of finding our first client by being our own first client. Because this is a sensitive area, we want to go carefully. Most companies are just plowing into it, promising grandness right out of the gate.”
A US subsidiary will also allow Naturally Splendid to increase the distribution footprint of its line of hemp foods (called Natera) and plant-based omega-3 ingredients that was developed by Canadian company Boreal Technologies, with which Naturally Splendid has a marketing deal. Boreal’s approach applies liposomal technology to omega-3 oils from chia, canola, flax and hemp to make ALA-rich ingredients that can be used in standalone supplement products or for use as food ingredients. The ingredients are available as powders or as aqueous solutions.