Wellington resident and scientist, Dr. Emek Blair, who earned his Doctorate in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, has been working with the local cannabis and hemp industry since 2009. He started with helping to standardized grow and processing practices, assuring things are done in safe and hygienic ways, and now is paving the way in CBD research.
CBD, short for ‘cannabidiol’, is a non-psychoactive chemical derived from the hemp species of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Both marijuana and hemp plants contain CBD, but the hemp plant contains much higher levels of CBD, and very low (less than 0.3%) levels of THC (the component of the marijuana plant that produces the ‘high’). CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, a system of receptors in the body that may have a mediating role in inflammation, pain, nausea, and many other biological functions. It was first discovered in 1940 by Dr. Roger Adams at the University of Illinois.
Hemp was a legal and common crop in the United States until the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937, during a time where competition with growing wood, paper, and plastic industries led to problems for the hemp industry. Then, it earned a bad rap when it was grouped in with its marijuana cousin in the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. Things changed when President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, making it federally legal to grow hemp, and removing hemp-derived products from the Schedule 1 controlled substance status. One of the goals of the Farm Bill was to allow research on CBD. Another benefit is that farmers wishing to grow hemp are now allowed the same benefits and protections as farmers growing other crops. It is up to each state to decide how they plan to regulate this crop, and hemp crops are popping up throughout the United States.
Hemp has been around for thousands of years, sharing a long-standing relationship with humans. The Vikings used it in building many aspects of their boats. In the colonial day’s hemp was used for clothing, rope, feeding animals, oil for cooking and use in food, and paper. According to a PBS article 8 things you didn’t know about hemp, by Carey Reed, “King James I required every property owner in Jamestown to grow 100 plants of hemp for export in 1619”. There was a ‘Hemp for Victory!’ program run through the U.S Department of Agriculture, encouraging farmers to grow hemp during World War II. In the current era, hemp can be used to make plastics, building materials, fuel for transportation, food for humans and animals, and CBD is gaining popularity in its medical usefulness.
Hemp works well with the environment as a sustainable crop. Dr. Blair explains that hemp is a bioremediator, which means that it pulls toxins and toxicants (natural and manmade poisons) from the soil, making the soil healthier. When tilled back into the ground, it provides fertilizer for next year’s crop. Native hemp crops create their own ecosystems, attracting helpful insects, like the ladybugs, that protect them from harmful insects, and allow more resilience to the local climate.
Medically, current research studies are testing how CBD may be useful in helping with pain, epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, inflammation, nausea, anxiety, sleep, relaxation, and more. CBD products for sale in stores are being marketed to treat many of these conditions. Dr. Blair describes the current state of the CBD industry as being in the middle of a transition. A lot of people jumped into the hemp industry purely for profit-making, but the claims around the many benefits of CBD have not been scientifically researched, and products not properly formulated. Dr. Blair is doing that much needed scientific research, alongside only a handful of others, in a field otherwise supported through limited case studies done by doctors.
Dr. Blair’s research includes a recently published article about the safety of CBD, and its ability to improve liver function and reduce blood sugar levels. He has done research on absorption rates, and created products designed to have better and more consistent absorption. He recently completed a study on the effectiveness of CBD in treating arthritis. Dr. Blair founded next-generation CELLg8™ liposomal technology, Valimenta™, and hemp manufacturing company Puffin Hemp, which is cGMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified to produce liposomal hemp. He has a strong belief in helping the industry, rather than competing with it, and does not sell CBD products, rather he partners with other organizations. Puffin Hemp has a Veteran Military Support Program offering reduced-cost CBD to veterans, with proceeds from the sale of PuffinMVP CBD benefiting local veteran organizations. To learn more about his research and company visit www.dremekblair.com and www.puffinhemp.com.
“We are trying to position ourselves as the leaders in the hemp industry, and we are doing it by executing a lot of very much needed human clinical studies, to truly understand what this ingredient is and how it interacts with your body,” said Dr. Blair.
Hemp and CBD are here to stay, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for these quickly growing industries. Stay tuned for more valuable research from Dr. Emek Blair.
Article Written by Annie Lindgren, for publication in North Forty News, February 24th, 2020 edition
Photo Credit: Provided by Dr. Emek Blair , Photo of Dr. Emek Blair in a hemp field with a ladybug