This week we learned that hemp will soon be going (literally) out of this world. The “dark and empty skies” may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of optimal hemp growing conditions, but scientists are planning to push the envelope in this regard. 

A group of research and biotech organizations (including Front Range BioSciences, the University of Colorado Boulder, and BioServe Space Technologies) are partnering up to bring both hemp and coffee tissue cultures, via a SpaceX flight, to the International Space Station (ISS).

At the ISS, the tissues will be cultivated and studied for potential genetic mutations that plant cells undergo at different stages of gravity. 

“This is one of the first times anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures,” said Dr. Jonathan Vaught, co-founder and CEO of Front Range Biosciences. “There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations. This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.”  

This Week’s Top CBD Deals

CBD may help relieve another form of hard-to-treat seizures, according to the company that developed Epidiolex, the first FDA approved, CBD-based pharmaceutical.  

GW Pharmaceuticals announced preliminary findings from a clinical study of patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). This rare genetic condition can result in seizures that are resistant to standard drugs.

For the study, 224 patients with TSC were treated with either 25 milligrams (mg) or 50 mg of Epidiolex every day, or a placebo. Over half the participants were under 11 years old and many had already tried four anti-seizure drugs without success. 

On average, the seizure frequency for those using Epidiolex dropped by almost 50% versus 27% for the placebo group. 

“It’s not a magic bullet,” said Dr. Elizabeth Thiele, who led the new study. “It doesn’t help everyone, as we saw in this study.” 

She is scheduled to present the findings at the American Epilepsy Society annual meeting in Baltimore this weekend. Until the study is published in a peer-reviewed journal it will be considered preliminary.

Another recently published study found that bees are attracted to taller varieties of hemp. Researchers at Cornell University spent time hanging out in the hemp fields of New York’s Finger Lakes region in the summer of 2018, collecting bees from 11 hemp farms. 

The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Entomology, found that both the number and species of bees visiting hemp plants increased with plant height. 

“As cultivation of hemp increases, growers, land managers, and policymakers should consider its value in supporting bee communities and take its attractiveness to bees into account when developing pest management strategies,” the researchers wrote.

This was a big week for New York’s hemp industry. Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law on Monday, setting the regulatory framework for the manufacture and sale of hemp products in the state. 

The new law lays out the permits required for growers and processors, as well as testing procedures and labeling standards. It also makes regulatory changes that ensure New York’s hemp program will be aligned with the 2018 Farm Bill.

“The hemp industry in New York is exploding and with that growth comes a responsibility to regulate the industry in a way that helps ensure its long-term viability and protects consumers,” Cuomo said in a press release.

One thing that the new law doesn’t address? Whether CBD can be added to food and beverages in the state. Those products remain banned in the state for the foreseeable future. 

An article in Vice this week took a look at the grey zone of CBD advertising and how CBD companies are getting around FTC and FDA advertising rules. 

Those rules can really cramp a CBD brand’s ability to make any claims for their product. Even a simple statement like “CBD can help with anxiety” can put a CBD brand at risk of receiving a stern warning letter from the government agencies. 

So companies are getting creative. Sunday Scaries, for example, is the company profiled in the article for the way they use social media influencers to make their claims for them. These posts may or may not labeled as advertisements, which makes it hard for consumers to know when they’re being given a sales pitch.

The influencers themselves (especially ones with a relatively small following) may not be making a ton of cash from the company, but the attention is gold for the CBD companies themselves. And that’s worth bearing in mind as you scroll through your Instagram feed.

More From CBD Hacker This Week

Hemp vs. Marijuana: Past, Present, and Future Definitions
In the United States, cannabis may be either a legal agricultural crop or a controlled substance — it all depends on whether the plant is classified as “marijuana” or “hemp.” Join us for a deep dive into the legal, scientific, and cultural definitions of these different terms for cannabis.

Farming has always been a tricky business in which to make a profit, but new artificial intelligence tools may make things easier in the future.

Green Cube Solutions, a Polish start-up, has developed technology that utilizes satellite and drone imagery data. According to CEO Marcin Marczak, the technology will “support farmers from soil preparation through harvest and up to product distribution.”

Green Cube experts will visit customer farms three to five times during a growing cycle. In its current phase, one critical service the technology provides is detecting male plants (which can destroy a crop of hemp). 

Future phases of the technology will assess flower maturity and estimate yield in 2021, with end-to-end cultivation process management, and malnutrition and disease detection to roll out in 2022.

And finally, a resolution to the ongoing saga of the New York CBD company, Green Angels, which was charged with importing 106 pounds of marijuana in October.

The company was actually bringing legally grown hemp into the state to process into CBD products, and after multiple hurdles and a bit of a media frenzy, the charges have been dropped.

“Everything could have been cut short just by looking at the right papers and going the right channels,” said Ronen Levy. “That was not done. Thank God today that the court looked over all the paperwork and dropped our charges.”

Company owners have now announced that they’ll be suing the NYPD for $10 million in damages.