Federal Hemp Legalization Highlights Hypocrisy on CBD, Cannabis
It has, so far, been a classic move of one hand giving and the other taking away.
Within hours of President Trump signing the 2018 Farm Bill into law last December and effectively releasing any cannabis or hemp plant with less than 0.3% THC content from the restrictions of the federal Controlled Substances Act, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) broke up the would-be celebration by reminding the country that they still regulate CBD products and that unless your name is GW Pharma, you ain’t approved.
Specifically, the FDA cautioned of impending crackdowns on unregulated products and the people behind them with this warning, “Additionally, it’s unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived. This is because both CBD and THC are active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs and were the subject of substantial clinical investigations before they were marketed as foods or dietary supplements. Under the FD&C Act, it’s illegal to introduce drug ingredients like these into the food supply, or to market them as dietary supplements. This is a requirement that we apply across the board to food products that contain substances that are active ingredients in any drug.”
Though they do not mention it directly in the quote above, the current FDA stance on CBD prohibition extends beyond food or dietary products and also includes “cosmetic” products.
So, that’s it? No more CBD?
Clearly, that’s not the case as you need look no further than your local convenient store or click through a few Google searches to find an endless supply of branded product for sale in all 50 states.
That blatant interstate commerce will likely be the first to be red-flagged if the FDA does in fact begin to flex their regulatory muscles.
Instead, much as we have seen with cannabis reform, states are already beginning to offer their own interpretations of the 2018 Farm Bill vs. the FDA’s so far toothless threats to determine whether or not they want to allow hemp-based commerce within their own state lines.
With interest in and use of CBD products at an all-time high and only on the rise, that demand requires a supply. Proactive states can participate in that inevitable economy and profit from it, or they can outlaw it which only hurts their bottom line and makes their residents needlessly suffer.
So we are seeing in Maine
Last week, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services started putting the word out that only medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to sell foods, tinctures, and capsules that contain CBD, and that they can only sell those products to registered patients. The state is also refusing to certify commercial kitchen facilities that produce CBD products.
Not typically known for its trendsetting, the state’s backlash toward hemp still comes as a surprise considering their early adoption of medical marijuana laws as far back as 1999 and decriminalization laws dating two decades even further back.
Maine residents made their state one of the first ten in the nation to pass adult recreational cannabis use laws back in 2016. Now over two years later the state is hardly any closer to implementing the program as advocates battle their Conservative Republican Governor Paul LePage who consistently quivers behind federal laws when confronted on the issue by his constituents.
For now, it seems, Maine residents will be waiting for hemp-derived CBD at least as long as they will wait for their democratically approved will on weed to become a reality.
Just over 3,000 miles to the west, California is having its own internal struggle on how to deal with CBD.
Before the 2018 Farm Bill, as Cali implemented its version of legal rec weed it treated hemp-derived CBD as taboo and disallowed it from gracing legal dispensary shelves.
But, as we mentioned above, the stuff is everywhere and lawmakers in the wild west see reward where their east coast counterparts only see risk.
Last December California Assemblywoman Celia Aguiar-Curry made a promise to Californians that she would introduce legislation this year to open the state for business when it comes to hemp-derived CBD-infused foods, topicals, supplements, and more.
On January 17th of this year, the Assemblywoman kept that promise and now AB 228 is set to advance through the halls of power in the state’s capitol.
The text of the bill is relatively short, here is the juicy part (emphasis ours):
110611. A food or beverage is not adulterated by the inclusion of industrial hemp products, including cannabidiol derived from industrial hemp. The sale of food or beverages that include industrial hemp products or cannabidiol derived from industrial hemp shall not be restricted or prohibited based solely on the inclusion of industrial hemp products or cannabidiol derived from industrial hemp.
111691. A cosmetic is not adulterated because of the fact that it includes industrial hemp products, including cannabidiol derived from industrial hemp. The sale of cosmetics that include industrial hemp products or cannabidiol derived from industrial hemp shall not be restricted or prohibited based solely on the inclusion of industrial hemp products or cannabidiol derived from industrial hemp.
The update in legislation cannot come fast enough as the Los Angeles Department of Public Health recently announced their own planned crackdown on unregulated CBD-infused products within their jurisdiction which includes 85 cities within the County of Los Angeles.
If AB 228 is successful it will do nothing to change the existing precedent of the FDA, but as we have seen with the hard-earned cannabis movement, the feds have a much harder time gaining traction on cases when they get little or no cooperation from cannabis-friendly sanctuary states.
As the fed's threats fizzle and as more states show an appetite for the potential revenues promised by a thriving hemp market, the momentum behind sensible CBD regulation will be too great to oppose.
The playbook for hemp’s ultimate success has already been proven tried and true in the well-worn trenches of the ongoing cannabis movement.