What Is Hemp Flower and Why Should Baby Boomers Care?
If any generation is in a position to really appreciate CBD hemp flower, it’s the Boomers. They have the most wealth of any generation, and they’ve become increasingly health conscious. Baby Boomers are turning the meaning of the golden years on its head. Don’t think Golden Girls, think David Bowie’s “Golden Years” (even though those Golden Girls are pretty sassy). And speaking of sass, Boomers aren’t shying away from the cannabis market … they’re boosting it.
According to a recent State of Cannabis report in California, there was a 140% increase in first-time cannabis buyers in 2018. The report credits the driving force of CBD for the upswing, with a nod to baby boomers who are “the most common CBD enthusiast of all age groups.” In fact, baby boomers spent the most money on cannabis in 2018.
A recent article in Forbes took a look at how baby boomers break down in the new cannabis market. It explains that current cannabis-using boomers consist of both “Newbies”—those who have never tried it before—and “Boomerangs”—older folks who are re-discovering cannabis after decades of abstaining.
Still, some older folks, even in states with the greatest access to cannabis, don’t feel as entirely liberated and empowered as they deserve. A study in 2019 reported that older adults still feel alienated from cannabis access in Colorado, because of residual negative stigma, disconnect with their physicians, or lack of access to education about their options.
Legal CBD Hemp flower might just be Baby Boomer generation’s answer to blazing the path to new attitudes about health, aging, and enjoying the finer things in life—all rolled into one! (Pun intended, folks!)
The Skinny on Hemp Flower
You might also hear it called “hemp bud”, “CBD flower”, and “CBD bud.” And even though it looks, smells, and tastes a lot like raw marijuana flower, you’re not going to get high from smoking it.
Hemp flower comes from female hemp plants that have reached full bloom and have begun to secrete cannabinoids and resins in order to attract pollen from male plants and produce seeds. In the case of growing hemp for hemp flower and CBD, timing is everything. The optimum time to harvest hemp flower is when they’ve produced those precious cannabinoids but not seeds.
As you probably already know, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and more than 100 known cannabinoids, are found in all cannabis, both marijuana and hemp. Just remember marijuana = high THC, and hemp = high CBD. Each has been bred to boost the amounts of its respective dominant cannabinoid. Take medical marijuana, for example. In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, marijuana was likely to contain around 5% THC. Incredibly, there are strains of medical marijuana that reach 30-45% THC now. On top of that, hemp is currently being bred to be richer in other cannabinoids that are considered to be beneficial like cannabigerol (CBG).
Although it’s lacking the THC and psychoactive effects, hemp flower looks, smells, tastes, and smokes similar to weed. This inevitably prompts some folks to ask …
Is hemp flower legal?
If it’s hemp-derived, CBD is legal. Since hemp flower only comes from hemp, you’re covered, as long as the hemp meets the federal government’s definition of hemp.
Hemp was first defined apart from marijuana by the federal government in the 2014 Farm Bill, followed by a succession of states that wanted to get in on the hemp fever that’s been lighting a fire under the U.S. agriculture and marketplaces ever since.
For nearly a century, during prohibition, the terms cannabis, marijuana, and hemp were used interchangeably. It began with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and continued through the overkill of the Controlled Substances Act of the 1970s that made marijuana (and subsequently, hemp) a Schedule I drug because it has “a high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” This placed marijuana (and it’s can’t-get-you-high cousin, hemp) on the same level as heroin and LSD. However, …
The 2014 Farm Bill defined hemp as containing .3 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and made it legal to cultivate, produce, and sell within state-defined programs that were considerably restrictive. The 2018 Farm Bill loosened those restrictions, and as long as hemp and hemp-derived CBD products follow the guidelines of the bill, they are legal. The defining factor is the THC amount of .3 percent or less. To reiterate, hemp is no longer a controlled substance as long as it meets the government’s definition.
What it comes down to is that hemp flower with the legal .3 percent or less amount of THC will not get you high. So, you ask, what does it do?
Why Are People Using CBD Flower?
People are taking up hemp flower for many of the same reasons they use other forms of CBD. Inhaling hemp bud is known to relieve stress, inflammation, pain, and insomnia. Even though research of CBD is mostly limited to pre-clinical studies involving animals (mostly mice), many people opt to use it to treat their symptoms of arthritis, PTSD, fibromyalgia, diabetes, cancer, and more.
But in order to get those cannabinoids in CBD flower to give up those potential benefits, you’re going to need some decarboxylation. Read on to find out what that five-syllable puppy is about …
Hemp flower cannabinoids need activation
The cannabinoids in natural, raw hemp flowers are in their inert forms. Remember, cannabinoids are molecules—we’re talking chemistry here. Before cannabinoids like CBD, THC, and CBC become active, they exist in their precursory forms: CBDA, THCA, and CBCA. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is the precursor to CBD, THCA is the precursor to THC … you get the picture.
The difference is something called a carboxyl group that is present on the precursor molecule. It’s this carboxyl group that prevents CBDA from binding to receptors in your body. Therefore, you won’t experience the effects of CBD with CBDA. That’s why you won’t get high if you eat raw marijuana—there’s almost no THC! Only THCA.
How, then, do we get rid of that carboxyl group and activate our cannabinoids? Through decarboxylation. Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that causes raw, inert cannabinoids to boot the carboxyl group, release a little CO2, and, heehaw! It’s activation season in your hemp flower!
There are two ways to decarboxylate raw cannabis, either hemp or marijuana, and that’s through time or heating. The cannabinoids in raw cannabis will activate as it dries over long periods of time—but that’s not very practical for consumption. Heating through smoking and vaping are the best two ways to activate cannabinoids immediately.
So, hemp flower, how do we decarb thee? Let us count the ways …
How Do You Use Hemp Flower?
When it comes to getting your CBD from hemp flower, you’ve got options, each of which has its own advantages. A few things you’ll want to keep in mind include:
- The amount of CBD in hemp flower depends on the CBD concentration in the plant strain. Expect between 100-200 mg of CBD in one gram of CBD flower.
- As we discussed above, hemp flower CBD has to be activated through decarboxylation, which can be done through smoking, vaporizing, or cooking.
- Using hemp bud is a natural and pure way to dose CBD. The plant matter hasn’t been processed and no other material has been added to the raw flower. People who are sensitive to additives may find this to be a more fitting form of CBD.
- Dosing isn’t always straight-forward with hemp flower. The best rule of thumb is to start low and go slow.
Smoking Hemp Flower
You can smoke hemp flower in all the traditional ways that marijuana is combusted and inhaled— through joints, pipes, etc. And it is even sold in pre-rolls, so the work is done for you. Smoking allows the full spectrum of hemp cannabinoids to get into you fairly quickly through the lungs. The disadvantage of smoking hemp flower is the same as it is for weed and tobacco—smoke inhalation is damaging. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Vaping CBD Flower
Vaping is highly effective, and has an even higher absorption than smoking. Also, it’s not damaging to your respiratory system like smoking is. With vaping, though, you will have to buy and maintain a dry herb atomizer.
The dry herb atomizer will heat the CBD buds to a certain temperature, so you can inhale the cannabinoids as a vapor. Here’s a kind of general description of how raw hemp flower is vaped:
- Break apart or grind the hemp buds using an herb grinder to increase the amount of plant matter that gets exposed to heat.
- Fill the vaporizing device with the ground buds. Make sure the bottom of the chamber closest to the heat source is covered with ground herb, but don’t over pack it.
- For optimum absorption, inhale vapor slowly for about 10 seconds, then exhale slowly.
Cooking with hemp flower
Beyond smoking and vaping, you can cook with CBD bud. Want to get the full spectrum of hemp cannabinoids and nutrients into your food? Make your own edibles by infusing butter or oil with hemp. It’s a process, but if you like cooking, it will be an enjoyable experience. There are a couple of things to keep in mind, however, …
- Edibles are difficult to gauge, effect-wise and dose-wise. The effects take longer to come on but stick around longer. They also depend on digestion, so the amount absorbed into the bloodstream may differ from person-to-person. Again, it’s a good idea to go slow and give it time.
- Before extracting your full spectrum CBD from your hemp flower and infusing it into butter or oil, you will need to activate your cannabinoids through decarboxylation. This is done by heating your hemp flower in the oven at no more than 245° F for 60-90 minutes. If you overheat or bake your hemp buds for too long, you will degrade the cannabinoids and they will lose potency.
- Because your activated hemp flower needs a carrier, you will need to infuse it in butter, oil, or ghee. You should heat it gently for 30 minutes in your chosen carrier. Again, overheating or burning will cause degradation.
- In any subsequent cooking or baking, keep the temperature below 315°.
Cooking with hemp flower and making your own edibles can be very satisfying. With your own infused hemp flower oil or butter, you can prepare many of the already existing cannabis recipes out there by simply substituting your hemp bud oil for the cannabis butter.
Why Hemp Flower Is So Popular
The allure of hemp flower strains
Think of the love and creativity that go into wine, craft beer, and coffee these days. The concern with characteristics of appearance, flavor, and smell. The imagery used by artisan and aficionado alike to describe them. The conversations to be had over the appeal of various varietals.
As with wine, craft hemp flower is blossoming into the market to offer strains that add value beyond the benefits, for both your senses and your social life. Enthusiasts gather around and converse over these artisanal consumables. Special jargon crops up in conversations about this or that strain, which is to hemp flower as a varietal is to wine.
Strains are the result of crossbreeding various cultivars of hemp. Breeders do this in order to manipulate the presence of certain cannabinoids in hemp flowers, and, therefore, the associated effects. Along with various strains come a slew of characteristics that can take your CBD experience to the next level.
To get an idea, take a look at these hemp flower strain profiles:
- Bubba Kush CBD hemp flower is known for its sedating effect. This hemp flower combines an earthy, citrusy, woodsy aroma with smooth coffee, chocolate, and a hint of green apple flavors. Ideal for pain relief and good sleep.
- Lifter CBD hemp flower strain is described as providing relief without drowsiness, having an earthy aroma with hints of floral notes, and a flavor that is woody and slightly sweet.
- Blue Genius Hemp Strain smells of fresh piney earthiness punctuated with the sweet smell of lemon drops and orange peel. Flavors range in notes of citrus, pine, pepper, basil, and floral spice. Known for taking the edge off pain and anxiety.
Whole plant nutrients without the intoxicating effects
Thanks to hemp flower, you can enjoy all the whole plant nutrients of cannabis without the intoxicating effect. When you get raw hemp flower, all the goodness of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are locked and loaded, waiting to be consumed. But unlike with marijuana, you’re only going to get a negligible amount of THC, so you won’t get high. This means you can relieve your anxiety without getting wacky. You can take a hike while telling your inflammation to take a hike.
Hemp flower relaxes you more in the body
Smoking and vaping hemp flower is a way to get a significant amount and range of cannabinoids into your system fairly quickly. With this form of consuming hemp CBD, there is an appreciable absorption rate through the lungs
With hemp flower, you can be certain you’re getting the full spectrum of cannabinoids and whole plant nutrients because it hasn’t been processed to remove anything. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch out for quality.
Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means it leeches impurities from the soil around it. If your hemp was grown around heavy metals, pesticides, or other contaminants, they will certainly be in your hemp and in you if you ingest it. Always vet your hemp product and make sure that it comes with a certificate of analysis (COA) which is an analysis of what is in your hemp (from cannabinoid amounts to impurities) that is performed by a third-party lab. It is important to know that your hemp CBD is safe.
Mixing hemp flower with marijuana
Some people like to use hemp flower to mellow out the psychoactive effects of their weed. One of the effects of CBD is that it moderates THC; CBD will actually block THC from attaching to receptors, proving that nature is a fan of checks and balances.
A Legal Alternative to Marijuana (with a Caveat)
Another reason hemp flower is so popular is that it is a legal alternative to weed. For those who have smoked marijuana for a long time, and for whatever reason they can’t anymore, CBD flower can be the next best thing. Some might argue even better.
However, even though hemp flower is legal, it is possible you may not pass a drug test if you smoke or vape it. While drug tests are not looking for CBD, it is possible to fail a drug test with any CBD product, even isolate. As we’ve discussed, all hemp flower is full spectrum—it’s got a whole variety of cannabinoids in it with varying amounts according to the strain.
We also know that the law only allows .3 % or less THC in hemp flower. Drug tests look for a threshold of THC. If you smoke or ingest a lot of hemp CBD within a certain period of time, your THC level could go above that threshold even though you are not getting intoxicated.
The Nature’s Breakthrough educational resource is just one of the ways The Hemp Haus practices its sincere commitment to and passion for educating people about CBD and helping them find the right, high-quality product based on their needs.