My dear friend passed into another more beautiful world about a month ago. I’m calling him Chip to shield his identity and protect his family. In June, I hardly knew Chip was sick; now, he is consigned to memory. On a hot early August evening, he texted me, “Dunno if you heard but I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer today.” I broke down sobbing into my husband’s arms, for my soul must have known what was to come. The cancer spread rapidly and he declined quickly. The alleviation of his suffering became his only treatment, a concept core to the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment that, if enacted, would have permitted him to use marijuana as medicine. Rumor had it that he did use a high potency derivative called Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). I heard that it served as a comforting bridge between life and death.
Chip was an eminently honest conspiracy theorist who decried the corporate and military industrial complexes, which is why he’d appreciate the report, “Hemp Oil Hustlers,” released shortly after his passing. An honorable man, he demanded truth and charity from brokers of deception.
From Project CBD, a California non-profit, “Hemp Oil Hustlers” delves into the Medical Marijuana Inc. complex of companies and products that extol the virtues of CBD hemp oil.
According to the report, Medical Marijuana Inc. is an Oregon corporation, which does business in California as Hempmeds (formerly HempmedsPx). The company’s Over-the-Counter ticker symbol is MJNA. Hempmeds markets a CBD hemp oil that it calls “Real Scientific Hemp Oil” or RSHO for short. The oil is derived from the seeds and stalks of the cannabis plant and comes in various strengths that are measured as percentages of CBD. Hempmeds proclaims it to be “the highest quality natural CBD [sic] in the industry.”
Indeed, cannabidiol (CBD) is proving to be a remarkable cannabinoid. It along with its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are constituents of the cannabis, aka marijuana plant. A search of from the National Library of Medicine finds over 1,200 studies which describe CBD’s therapeutic action against cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and more.
This therapeutic action is brought to light with Rich Simpson Oil. Named for its original maker, RSO has been described as a potent combination of both THC and CBD that emanates from the plant’s leaves and flowers. RSO’s namesake has used the oil to help patients treat cancer, skin lesions, glaucoma, arthritis and many other conditions, free of charge. However, even Simpson himself will admit that some cannot be saved by his oil.
Chip was a case in point. He, too, supposedly received the RSO for free, but it did not cure his cancer. It did alleviate his suffering, which proved a miracle unto itself.
Thanks to a nearly 50-year drug war, Rick Simpson’s healing oil is against the law – a Schedule I controlled substance with no medicinal value. In Ohio and other states without medical marijuana laws, RSO is produced in clandestine laboratories or kitchens, unless the patient is fortunate enough to be able to relocate to legal states such as Colorado.
Could it be suggested that Hempmed’s Real Scientific Hemp Oil (RSHO) containing CBD only represents a pathway around the drug war and thus makes a worthy, legal substitute? No, claims the Project CBD report, quoting a representative of the FDA, “CBD meets the definition of schedule I under the Controlled Substance Act.”
It stands to reason that Hempmed’s RSHO is not RSO. If RSO is a potent combination of CBD and THC and if both are illegal under federal law, Hempmeds employees would quickly find themselves in prison for manufacturing and distributing marijuana as a controlled substance, a sentence served by over 1,100 Ohioans in 2011. The HIA concluded, “CBD products in the market should not be termed ‘Hemp Oil’ and we are working with vendors of such products to rebrand CBD extracts to remove the market confusion this causes.” It’s unclear whether the similarity in the names is intentional or coincidental. Someone who magnanimously gave away his oil probably didn’t trademark his name, making it easy for others to co-opt his branding.
The Schedule I status of cannabis has thwarted the research necessary to determine if CBD alone (RSHO) has the same anti-cancer activity as the whole plant combo of CBD and THC (RSO), or if the commercially manufactured product alleviates the suffering of the dying as effectively as the clandestine gift.
The suffering that my dear friend endured, combined with his contempt for corporate deception, raises the significance of the Project CBD report. He experienced firsthand both the promises and limitations of Rick Simpson Oil. It came to him too late to change his course of his cancer, but it helped him cope with the pain of his last days.
We must tread humbly and cautiously into this realm where all of us must one day visit. It is a place that has no room for deception, where truth and charity become the measuring sticks of success, as Chip might attest and Rich Simpson knows. This does not suggest that Medical Marijuana Inc. or Hempmeds is doing anything wrong. But it does demand that such entities make their ingredients, contaminants, manufacturing procedures and legal restrictions transparent and avoid branding or positioning that confuses the public. And there’s that, as Chip would say.

Author’s note: Medical Marijuana Inc. was contacted for comment during the composition of this article. Their response was, “The Project CBD report is based upon false, inaccurate and misleading statements. We will seek full legal remedies and awards for the damages caused by the malicious and intentionally harmful article and actions by the enterprise made up of the publication's author, the publicist, and other parties and individuals." On Friday, October 17, MJNA filed a $100 million lawsuit in the Superior Court of California against some of the individuals named in the report. Future editions of The Free Press will cover this progress of this suit.

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