As CBD markets continue to expand, farmers, researchers and businesses are looking at other industrial hemp plants — cannabinoids.
Last year, during their first year of production, 90% of Kansas’ more than 200 industrial hemp farmers grew CBD hemp. The other 10% focused on grain and fiber varieties. By trying to grow CBD, these farmers were opting for a higher-yield hemp crop.
"Hemp has hundreds of other cannabinoids," said Andrea Holmes, organic chemistry professor at Doane University in Nebraska. "CBN, CBG, CBC, CBT, CBL, THCV, all of these are non-psychotropic, minor and rare cannabinoids. Every other week someone is isolating a new substance."
CBDA, once processed, becomes CBD, a well-known major cannabinoid. This non-hallucinogenic hemp substance was part of numerous clinical trials that showed health benefits.
Research is starting on minor cannabinoids, including CBN and CBG. Kansas farmers, processors and retailers are looking into these two hemp plants.
Sheldon Coleman, co-owner of Sunnyland Kansas, is excited about CBG and CBN. This father/son operation grows the plants in Butler County and dries them in McPherson. Last year, they successfully grew and harvested CBD hemp. This year, they are looking into growing both CBN and CBG.
CBN – cannabinol — is noted for its calming effects.
According to Holmes, CBN has been shown to help with sleep disorders. She said it is usually mixed with CBD.
CBD American Shaman, a Kansas City based company, which has 400 retail stores nationwide and more than 40 in Kansas, introduced CBNight in March. This water-soluble tincture is the first American Shaman item to focus on CBN and can be found in their Garden City, Hays, Hutchinson and Topeka stores.
"The new thing is CBG. It’s bigger than CBD," Coleman said. "With CBG, you’re getting twice the yield for the same weight. CBG has very little THC. One of the big deals is that it doesn’t grow hot (meaning it does not surpass the less than 0.3% THC legal level)."
Holmes said CBG – cannabigerol — has shown on trial research anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Cosmetic companies are interested because this product may help with acne and sunburns.
American Shaman already sells a CBG flower product. By summer, the company plans to release a new CBG product.
"More is known of CBG," said Joel Mackey, a spokesman for CBD American Shaman. "It’s kind of like your morning coffee."
Along with buying from other producers, American Shaman partners with two hemp farms in Alma.
"The market is opening up," said Jason Griffin, the director of Kansas State University’s John C. Pair Horticulture Center and an ornamental tree and shrub specialist. But, he warned, farmers need to do their research on what they should plant.
"A little bit of homework is prudent to consider what is best for you," he said. "CBD is not the only player in the game anymore."
Griffin is hoping to plant CBG along with CBD plants on his test plots.
Learning how to grow and market
Holmes teaches several hemp classes at Doane University. She not only holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, but has studied all forms of the hemp plant extensively. Her courses examine seed genetics, cultivation, processing and compliance.
Sunnyland Kansas and America’s Hemp Academy in De Soto teach producers about the cultivation, farming and harvesting techniques of industrial hemp.
"We teach on grain fiber and floral variety from seed to sale," said Shelli Hornberger, the director of operations at America’s Hemp Academy. "That would include CBD and CBG and all other cannabinoids.
Time will tell
"The CBD market got so completely flooded last year," said Erica Stark, the executive director of the National Hemp Association in Washington, D.C. "It remains to be seen how long that market (CBG) will hold or if those markets will get flooded."
As for CBL and CBT, Stark said, we’re only just beginning to touch the surface on what the benefits are.
"It’s a treasure trove," Holmes said. "But we will find out what these gems will do."