On a remote mountainside overlooking a misty valley, rows of cannabis plants are growing near fields of tobacco and corn.
This isn’t a pot farm in California. It’s in southwestern China’s Yunnan.
China has one of the strictest drug control policies in the world. But here in a mountainous region bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, cannabis is being touted as a crop that could bring untold wealth to farmers and businesses.
That’s because these plants won’t get you high. They don’t have enough of a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is responsible for the euphoric feeling.
Instead, they’re rich in cannabidiol, often called CBD, another chemical extracted from cannabis that isn’t intoxicating.
Except for one prescription drug based on CBD used to treat rare forms of childhood epilepsy, scientists still don’t know exactly how the compound affects human bodies.
But there is a craze around the hyped up ingredient, even if the current legal framework around it in the US exists in a gray area.
In the US and Europe, CBD has been portrayed as a cure-all, for anxiety, arthritis, acne, Parkinson’s, autism – you name it. It’s being added to everything from skin creams to dog treats.
Get to know cannabisHemp and marijuana are types of cannabis. Marijuana is mostly consumed for the ingredient THC, the chemical that produces a high.Hemp is defined as cannabis with a THC level of lower than 0.3%. It can be used to produce non-intoxicating cannabis extracts, including CBD.The United States legalized commercial hemp growing in December with the 2018 Farm Bill. Marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law, but it’s legal for consumption in some states such as California and Colorado.CBD is a compound that can be extracted from either hemp or marijuana.
The fast-expanding, if speculative, CBD economy is now fueling an investment mania in China, a country where smoking pot has long been viewed as close to taking poison.
“It’s like we suddenly went from winter to summer,” Pan Zongbing, who owns two CBD factories in Yunnan, said from his office over a lit cigar and a pot of Yunnan Puer tea.
“In the future, more applications will be invented. More people will be able to benefit from it. CBD will only become more popular.”
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News