When President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law late last year, he also ended the federal prohibition of the hemp plant… or so we were told.
Hemp-derived CBD was already a hot commodity, as it always seemed a safer risk than dealing with actual weed – especially in less-than-friendly states. So when the Farm Bill was passed, most people understandably assumed that legalizing hemp meant legalizing all forms of hemp and visions of interstate and international commerce and giant piles of money began dancing through the heads of entrepreneurs from around the world.
Then, as though they were completely caught off-guard by such a notion, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a clarification that despite the new law, nothing changed in their interpretation of hemp-derived CBD.
In other words, until further notice, CBD-infused food or dietary supplements are still strictly prohibited by the FDA and cannot be sold legally. Further, the FDA also states that if CBD-infused products of any kind are being advertised as having any sort of medicinal uses or disease-curing properties, they will be regulated as “drugs” under existing law.
Well, ok then. Not sure if it’s still a buzzkill on a product that won’t give you a buzz, but that certainly made a lot of folks pump the brakes a bit on their hemp dreams.
Not everybody, though.
Like we said, there was no shortage of these hemp-derived CBD products on store shelves before the 2018 Farm Bill, and there are still plenty of them on shelves today even after the clear cut continuation of FDA policy.
The reason is that while they may not have a green light from the FDA, historically the feds haven’t had the budget or the appetite to crack down on retailers or manufacturers and so commerce continues to thrive in a grey market.
Until last week, that is.
In an odd report from the Phoenix New Times, a headshop owner named David Murray says that his store was raided, sort of, by the FDA, allegedly, who cleared a couple shelves of hemp-derivative CBD-infused chocolate bars, gummy candies, and k-cup beverage pods.
He says that agents came into his store Neverlow Glass Gallery in Yuma, Arizona, just after 9am last Thursday and showed no warrant, left no paperwork, but made off with a grand total of just 45 individually packaged items.
Murray says there was another “enforcement unit” present but he told the newspaper he couldn’t remember who it was.
Man, this whole thing stinks.
Murray acknowledges that he finds it odd that they only took what was on the shelf, and didn’t demand his entire inventory of the items in question.
With headlines in the news recently that the FDA still considers hemp-based CBD to be against the law, it’s even possible that this shop owner got played by some clever crooks, but would it be worth that risk for a few hundred dollars’ worth of goofy CBD treats?
None of this makes sense.
Murray says that the same agents visited the shop less than a week before their micro-raid and made inquiries about the very same products, then left.
They apparently asked specific questions to get Murray or another employee to advise them that the products were intended for human consumption, or to upsell some sort of health benefits.
Whatever they heard, it was enough to bring them back to … clear a shelf or two?
But, there have been reports in other parts of the state where “jarhead-lookin’ guys straight outta the military” have been poking around headshops and smokeshops asking similar probing questions, so beware if you are in that industry.
Additionally, we’ve seen people on social media complaining lately that the USPS, FedEx, and UPS are becoming more aggressive in cracking down on interstate shipments of CBD products, like the white crystalline isolate that can easily be confused at first glance as something more sinister.
Thousands of dollars of hemp-derived CBD products are being confiscated or stolen (what’s the difference, really) by postal carrier companies and the affected parties are left with zero recourse in almost all circumstances.
CBD has proven to be such a versatile and helpful cannabinoid that there are many, many products that fall outside of the FDA's purview as long as they market themselves properly - bath bombs for example.
Where is Senator Mitch McConnell and his hemp pen and his turtle-y chin now?
Will any politicians step up to protect CBD?
Are we really ok with the FDA continuing to threaten American-grown, American-made mom n’ pop hemp-based CBD businesses and the stores that choose to sell those products while they allow UK-based GW Pharma to hawk Epidiolex CBD syrup to sick kids for $32,500 a year?
Let this be a harsh and brutal lesson that we all remember when the day finally arrives that the federal government claims to be ready to “end the prohibition” of cannabis.