Though hemp-derived cannabidiol products were legalized in 2018, there are still many misconceptions about cannabidiol.

Janie Dickens, a North Carolina farmer based in Willow Spring, has been growing hemp for CBD since 2019. From her weekly Community Marketplace events at Healing Green Farms, she frequently answers questions from curious customers.

“I’m on the frontline of education on this,” said Dickens. “A lot of manufacturers don’t have that privilege.”

Education comes naturally to Dickens, who spent 15 years as an elementary school teacher and 10 years as a special education advocate. During this time, she adopted two children with special needs from Russia.

“My daughter struggled with anxiety as a little girl,” said Dickens. “We went through every medicine and treatment, and nothing helped. When we heard about CBD, we decided to try it right away because nothing else had helped her. We ordered the product early on, and my daughter has used it ever since really successfully.”

Dickens’s experiences have helped her break down some major misconceptions about CBD.

Misconception 1: CBD will give users a high

CBD products in North Carolina are required to have no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis that produces a high in users. These trace amounts of THC are insufficient to produce an altered feeling for most people.

“There’s a difference between broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD products,” said Dickens. “Broad spectrum CBD has had THC removed in a lab, so it can claim zero THC. But science tells us that CBD works better when it’s with all of its friends. In general, broad spectrum products are less effective than full spectrum products for most people, because THC has been taken out. The absence of THC in broad spectrum products may seem appealing, however they tend to be less effective without the trace amount of THC. This is why Healing Green Farms only offers full spectrum CBD products.”

At Healing Green Farms, Dickens’s goal to stay close to nature means CBD products are grown in a greenhouse with organic practices that keep the plants as free from contaminants as possible.

“Hemp in the ground is subjected to so many variables,” said Dickens. “The soil has had too many decades of chemicals sprayed on it.”

Her plants are grown in above-ground planters using only organic methods, and are protected from environmental contaminants.

“In many cases, pest control is achieved by picking bugs off with our fingers,” said Dickens.

Misconception 2: CBD is illegal

The confusion around the legality of CBD may be because its status has changed over time, including in 2018, when hemp became legal across the nation. This did not legalize all forms of the cannabis plant locally, however.

In North Carolina, hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC is legal. Different varieties of hemp have different levels of THC, leading to some forms that are legal and some that are not

“We are comfortable going to the grocery store and seeing 20 different varieties of tomatoes,” said Dickens. “Some are bitter, some are sweet, some are alkaline. Hemp is no different. We grow a variety of hemp that have a naturally low level of THC and a naturally high level of CBD.”

Misconception 3: CBD is a “snake oil”

Some don’t believe CBD can work as claimed because people report different effects when they use it. However, Dickens said there is a reason people react differently.

The key to CBD’s beneficial properties lies in the endocannabinoid system of the body, or the ECS. This complex cell-signaling system plays an important role in homeostasis, which is the stability of the internal environment. In this role, the ECS influences metabolism, chronic pain, immune system responses, mood, motor control, learning and memory.

According to Healthline, “If an outside force, such as pain from an injury or a fever, throws off your body’s homeostasis, your ECS kicks in to help your body return to its ideal operation.”

Experts are still investigating the interactions between CBD and the ECS, but research suggests CBD protects or enhances the function of the ECS, leading to a reduction in pain, nausea and other symptoms related to homeostasis.

“Our bodies are all different,” said Dickens. “Just like pharmaceuticals can impact someone differently from someone else, homeopathic remedies will impact each body differently.”