Project CBD: Will The Industry Support The Movement?

By Fred Gardner
Project CBD has just sent out its introductory pitch to California dispensaries. is the medical marijuana movement living up to its name,” explains outreach coordinator Sarah Russo, optimistically, as she asks the dispensaries to participate in a “collective research effort.” But what are the chances that the dispensary owners, intent on building their own brands, will support a venture aimed at advancing the movement as a whole?

CBD, in case you’re just joining us, is Cannabidiol —a component of the Cannabis plant known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and other beneficial medical effects. CBD is not psychoactive and actually counters the psychoactive effects of THC. It is the predominant cannabinoid in hemp —plants grown to produce fiber or growing wild. CBD levels go down and THC levels go up when plants are bred to maximize psychoactive effect, as they have been in the U.S. for many generations of plants and people.
It was widely assumed for a long time that CBD had been almost entirely bred out of the Cannabis being grown in California for medical/commercial purposes. And because no analytic chemistry labs were testing Cannabis samples before the winter of 2008-09, there was no way to assess cannabinoid content. Overseas things were different. For many years researchers have been exploring the medical potential of CBD, and G.W. Pharmaceuticals conducted successful clinical trials and got U.K. government approval to market Sativex, a whole-plant extract with equal amounts of CBD and THC, for use by MS patients. Canada and Spain have also issued approvals for Sativex.
The situation in California changed in 2008 when Steve DeAngelo arranged for a lab to test the Cannabis he was providing at Oakland’s Harborside Health Center. DeAngelo had to fund a start-up to accomplish this. When Harborside opened in 2006 he had phoned every analytic lab in the Bay Area and been turned down when he mentioned the C word. In the spring of ’08 he decided to back two entrepreneurs who were launching a lab —the aptly named “Steep Hill”— and to supply them with a large, steady stream of samples to test for mold and cannabinoid content (THC, CBD and CBN, a breakdown product indicative of freshness). At least eight more labs have started testing Cannabis in California since then, and there are labs in Montana and Colorado. ProjectCBD’s Russo says, “We seem to hear from a new lab every week.”

It turns out that CBD is not all that rare —about one in every 600 samples tested by the labs is found to be high in CBD. Evidently, that’s the rate at which a mutation occurs resulting in an excess of the enzyme that transforms a precursor molecule of CBD and THC into one or the other. More than 25 CBD-rich strains have been identified, and Russo says, “We seem to hear about a new strain every week, too”
The prospect of CBD-rich cannabis becoming available prompted the Society of Cannabis Clinicians to plan a data collection effort. Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, President of the SCC, had spent years listening to talks about CBD at meetings of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, wishing he could observe its effects on real patients. Hergenrather and co-worker Stacey Kerr, MD have now drafted a survey aimed at documenting patients’ answers to some basic questions about the effects of CBD-rich Cannabis. (For purposes of data collection, “CBD-rich” has been defined as 4% or more CBD, regardless of THC content. The amount of CBD that a given strain contains isn’t the only factor influencing the effects it will exert when ingested. The ratio of CBD to THC may be as or more important. Terpenoid and flavonoid content also appear to be very important.)
Project CBD was launched to publicize and promote the SCC survey(s). Martin A. Lee, the author of Acid Dreams, had been writing about CBD for O’Shaughnessy’s and convinced your correspondent that its re(introduction) into the grassroots supply was going to be a huge, ongoing story and would warrant its own journal of sorts. Over the past year we put a lot of effort into encouraging production by plant breeders and growers who had strains testing high in CBD. Many dispensary owners have been reluctant to stock CBD-rich strains because their present customers are seeking —or are not adverse to— Cannabis that causes euphoria or sedation. In other words, THC content sells, it’s a sure thing. Why should a dispensary spend money and devote shelf space to a type of Cannabis that most medical users haven’t heard of and whose effects are unproven?
Growers, in turn, have to anticipate the wants of dispensary buyers, and are reluctant to devote valuable garden space to plants for which there is no established market. ?Demand at the dispensary level might not take off until effectiveness is established. Which might not happen until significant numbers of patients have tried CBD-rich Cannabis and taken the SCC survey to report their results. Or, as Martin says, “there could be a tsunami of interest any day now.” provides the whole story to date and a “CBDiary” noting recent developments. The big news as of March 1: for the first time, a California grower has “stabilized” a CBD-rich strain. Lawrence Ringo of the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective is now offering seeds of “Sour Tsunami” that have a one-in-four chance of containing 10-11% CBD (and 6-7% THC).
Read all about it here.
Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s, the journal of cannabis in clinical practice. His email is
NORML’s updated primer on existing and potential cannabinoid and cannabis therapies is found here.

33 thoughts

  1. Please pardon my conflicted state.
    While THC has been proven to be medicinally beneficial as an active ingredient of cannabis, CBD also has been proven to also be medically beneficial as an active ingredient of industrial hemp. Most of the commercial focus to date has been on the former, THC.
    The $64.00 (or rather $64 Billion USD) question is: “Does the breeding of either cannabis or industrial hemp make these key active ingredients of medical benefit mutually exclusive, an either THC or CBD “Hobson’s Choice”?” Such cannabis pathfinders as Lawrence Ringo of the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective would seem to indicate that these are not mutually exclusive, as seen in their breeding of “Sour Tsunami”.
    Such a genetic “crossing” offers some hope that at some future point that when both cannabis and industrial hemp are again fully legal, there need not be a conflict between cannabis and industrial hemp growers. The prospect of the pollen of vast tracts of industrial hemp contaminating medicinal cannabis, degrading it beyond usefulness, might be alarmist. The vision of medicinal cannabis rich in THC having to be grown under strict indoor|greenhouse laboratory conditions, with HEPA filters and “bunny-suited” growers almost defies economic viability.
    With cannabis sativa|indica|ruderalis increasingly being considered the most beneficial of all plants under human cultivation, literally the “Tree of Life”, it is reassuring that some new advancements are being made in addressing seemingly conflicting genetic traits of it’s medical botany.
    For that, both and the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective deserve our support. “Sour Tsunami” looks like a “must have” strain for medical marijuana growers to acquire.

  2. isnt this the pill thats aready out which people complain about giving adverse effects? the point i am making is that in the plant everything is in balence, when you concentrate and remove it from nature its can and will go bad…
    [Paul Armentano responds: The FDA-approved pill, dronabinol, contains synthetic THC and no CBD, or any other cannabinoids for that matter.]

  3. Some good news out of Montana: The medi-mj repeal bill has failed in committee: “Four Democratic senators, jointed by Republican Sens. Chas Vincent of Libby and Terry Murphy of Cardwell, opposed the bill.”
    THANK YOU to those senators who had the courage and vision to realize that prohibition is causing more harm than good. It’s great to see that both Democrats and Republicans can come together on this important, timely law. Montana is a better state because of your efforts today, protecting the citizens of Montana from those who would put them in jail over a little marijuana. THANK YOU!!!!

  4. My opinion – awesome, just awesome. This is exactly what this movement needs – experts worldwide refuting the position of “no medical value.” The research above states that the higher the CBD content, the better the benefits for medical use, yet the lower the pstchoactives. For one thing, I can hear ol’ Phillip and RJ chearing from here. A cigarette that not only is much, much safer to smoke, but one that could very easily replace “the brown cousin.” I am an avid and dedicated smoker (about 1 1/2 to 2 packs a day), and I have been waiting for this strain for a very long time (I wanna quit tobacco). Now, I just have to wait for it to become legal, so I can replace my “reds” with “greens”. It’s always been just a matterof time, folks. And from this news, I can hear the big hand moving up yet another notch.

  5. CBD is AMAZING when it comes to treating Social Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks. Seriously more awareneness needs to be raised for people with high social anxiety and panic attacks to try a high CBD strain rather than pills such as benzos or antidepressants.
    I recently tried a strain from a local dispo known as “Cannatonic” which was tested by a lab revealing close to 8% CBD, almost twice that of the THC (around 4%). And as someone who has been severely anxious with panic attacks for a very long time and has tried different treatments, I must say that this high CBD strain with an almost 2:1 ratio has been much more helpful than the pills.
    I urge everyone with anxiety issues (at least those in dispo states) to search online for a dispensary that sells a high CBD strain. Here in Boulder there are only a few that I know of, most strains are mostly THC with relatively high CBD levels being 1-2%. This 8% strain is incredible.

  6. That’s nice, dear. You have to get the IRS off the back of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax first, though. Dispensaries and other interested parties may have to pool their money to do a Larry Flynt and have Woody Harrelson have all the money brought into the courtroom and dumped on the floor in front of the judge and the cameras. You know the camera footage will become a huge news meme.
    You’d better take care of what’s going on with Lynnette Shaw of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana. The IRS can’t be allowed to pull this shit, and lock up people for it or put people out of business for it. This is the whole thing where Holder gave it public to let people believe that as long as the cannabis enterprises are in compliance with state law that the federal government will not take action against them, and here we fuckin’ go again. Someone get in there and help her straighten out the record keeping, and make the IRS to back off from the DC end of things.
    “Shaw said the IRS disallowed her deductions — for buying marijuana, hiring employees, securing office space and more — based on section 280E of the federal tax code, which states that no deduction shall be allowed for any business trafficking in controlled substances. Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a schedule I controlled substance, a category of drugs not considered legitimate for medical use — despite voters’ 1996 approval of Proposition 215, which legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes in California.” from Cannabis Culture.

  7. A lifetime ago I was recommended a high CBD strain while visiting a coffee shop in Amsterdam. It was the MOST relaxed, and calm, and peaceful, I have EVER felt while using cannabis. There was no “edginess” or anxiety no matter how much I used (and I am prone to paranoia and anxiety)! It is an experience I have been longing to repeat for a very long time and I have been anxiously waiting for America to “discover” this wonderful aspect of cannabis!
    The medical implications are seemingly endless. CBD strains could be used as sleep aids, anti-anxiety treatments, muscle relaxants, and even pain killers!
    As advocates of cannabis we must support this research.

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  9. What we have here is the government and BIG PHARMA realizing that cannabis has medicinal propertites and their knowledge that cannabis is the path to creative thinking coupled with the inevitable relegalization of this plant, they (government & BP) want to capitalize and monopolize the medicinal end while DENYING YOUR RIGHT to get high and expand your mind.
    That’s right folks. Medical marijuana was initially intended to spoon feed prohibitionists the truth about cannabis. But it has backfired. Better move to Europe.
    [Paul Armentano responds: The focus of potentially high-CBD strains discussed in this post is being driven by cannabis patient advocates, not the federal government or big pharma.]

  10. This is exactly what the industry needs to help eliminate the couchlock stoner stereotype so commonly used by propagandists to encourage marijuana prohibition.

  11. Paul,
    Thanks for the clarification but those folks who seek to profit from medicinal marijuana are no better than those who wish to prohibit it.IMO of course.

  12. Mark, all marijuana dealers, whether legal or illegal, seek some sort of profit. There actually are quite a few successful dispo owners who give a lot back to charities. You can’t expect them to try to make 0 profit, then they wouldn’t be able to pay for basic things. They are also taking a fairly large risk when it comes to the Feds, so it is fair that they profit a little.

  13. I didn’t read through everything yet. Is CBD water soluble? If so people would be able to medicate using tea without worrying about THC getting them high (if such an effect is undesirable).

  14. I was arrested for growing a plant that was VERY high in CBD and low in THC…it was the only thing that helped the neuropathic pain i suffer from that was caused by radiation relative to cancer treatment. At trial, it was such a joke, because my doctors had prescribed FENTANYL, which is one of the WORST opiod medicines available…has killed thousands. I tried to explain that if you want to get “higher” than you can with fentanyl, you have to DIE. It was so obvious that i wasnt growing the plant to get “high”; i was growing it to slow down the nerve damage. Didnt matter. Guilty. CBD is an AWESOME MEDICINE, for so many things…which is why the plant that produces it is illegal…big pharma hasnt figured out a way to make it PROFITABLE yet…but just watch- the minute they do, it’ll be a “wonder drug”…and those of us who have been knowing this for years will wonder how they fucking sleep at night, or look at themselves in the mirror…
    People who KNOW that cannabis is a GOOD plant, and fight against it for either votes or money should burn in hell…People who DONT KNOW that its a GOOD plant, and fight against it, need to see FIRST-HAND, from patients that use it, that it works…and people who know its a GOOD plant, and DO NOTHING to change the laws, are even worse than the first group…they deserve everything they get, both from the government and karma…

  15. DRodman, a little profit? Fine. But prices at Cali med mar facilities are the same as street prices.

  16. 3. Conservative Christian
    So! who were the 6 treasonous puppets that voted for it? Thank God for the patriots that voted against the bill. Evil has the souls of the 6 that voted for it. My guess is that they knew the DOJ was going to violate the states sovereignty. So shall they do unto others, so shall it be done unto them in the 2012 elections. Montana’s blue skies are a little gray – but – will soon be blue again – we pray.
    Have a great CDXX Communion

  17. Its about the business model, STUPID!!! In California, we have two business models. The Recreational user (REC-USER) and the Medical Marijuana (MED-WEED User). The first is called ‘Street Corner’ sales and is 100% illegal. The later is call the CA Medical Marijuana Industry and is quazi legal (depending what side of the bed your local DEA got out of).
    SPECIAL INTERESTS: The MED-WEED Users/Dispensary Operators fear their industry will go under if Marijuana is legalized and they are 100% correct. Why would you want to pay $100.00 a year to get a MED-WEED Card/Exam when it’ legal? Conversely, The REC-Users groans under the hypocracy of legal beer/tobacco sales and the exclusion of the MED-WEED community (which is more RN Florence Nightengale than Dr. Timothy Leary).
    My solution makes EVERYONE happy.
    When (not if) Marijuana is legalized in California, ONLY PERMIT IT TO BE SOLD FROM DISPENSARIES (just throw away the MED-CARDS). Why is this a great idea? First, you don’t want children using Marijuana, only adults—this pulls the breaks on diversion to children. SECOND, it needs to be restricted. I don’t want girl scouts selling it door to door, or little Sally Stoner setting up a Weed-aid stand in front of her house. Third, the regulatory infra-structure is already in place so you wouldn’t have to re-invent the wheel. The Stoners get what they want (unlimited access to good sh*t and the Dispensary Operators get what they want (to remain in business). Its a win-win. FOr my next trick, I will solve the Israel/Palistinian conflect in the middle east!!!

  18. WHAT IS REASONABLE PROFIT? Can anyone talk about this.
    Obviously, the days of $60.00 Eightballs are a thing of the past because no one will pay that. That was the old 1980s street price under the paraquat days of
    no supply big demand.
    But What IS a fair price for an Eightball at a Dispensary? I have seen some Eightballs go for $15.00 an 1/8th which makes about three, wide-track $5.00 spliffs.
    Since most patients consume one OZ a month @ 50.00 1/8, that $400 (8×50)per patient a month or $800K month with a small 2000 based dispensary. Figure $100K a month for the Dispensary’s PPPE (People, plant, Property and Equipment) and $100K month supply replenishment, leaves $600K profit.
    My problem is I can’t figure out a grower’s profit margin. I figure (Please, someone correct me) 200 plants (indoor) converts to about one Kilo Weed (3.2 lbs or 287 Eightballs at $50.00 a pop (50×287= $14,300 a Kilo retail—the wholesale price is probably $8,000.00. Now, subtract out $2,000 rent, $200 water, $200 Lights, $200 pesticides and fertilizers, $300.00 loan repay on expences, $2,500 salaries for employees equals about $3,000.00 profit ($8k-$5K).
    As an Indoor Grower, I would assume you’d have to sell a minimum two kilos JUST to keep the doors open on your Crops. I don’t see MED-WEED going lower that $30 1/8 for Top Shelf D. sh*t. Any lower, and you will kill Planter’s incentive to grow weed.

  19. 22,23 Professor Buzz Kill
    1. Cannabis has a $20.00 gram weight standard on the street and in the collective.
    2. Federally – no one can grow [literally touch] cannabis – “no one” – without facing federal charges.
    3. Read the 02.01.11 DOJ Memorandum, and follow the “No Home Grow” legislation being introduced in all 50 states.
    4. “Any and all profit” will be made by Big Pharma and its tentacles. Prisons will profit by its illegal possession.
    5. What will be really interesting is how hard it will be to get a prescription from traditional medicine.

  20. I just paid $60 for an eighth of “so so” green bud in Philly. The price of weed is too fucking high. An eighth of great weed should cost no more than $10.00.

  21. I just paid $60 for an eighth of “so so” green bud in Philly. The price of weed overall is WAY TOO FUCKING HIGH. An eighth of great weed is worth no more than 10 bucks.

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  23. high-cbd is amazing. The strain that I have develops cbd early in it’s growth cycle, so I put the fresh plant, uncured in my smoothie and it helps with my back pain that I’ve had since being a child, and alleviates my mental health problems.
    Thank you God.

  24. CBD clones are hard to find. How can I grow my meds when actually getting my hands on the clones is so difficult? Been searching and calling shops for the past 4 1/2 months! Dry in Bakersfield, will drive to obtain them…any suggestions??

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