The FDA made a few headlines this week with respect to CBD. First, the agency announced a public hearing which will take place on May 31, 2019.
The intent of the hearing is to collect information on “the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling, and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds”. This much-anticipated event will allow stakeholders in the industry to have a say in the FDA’s future approach to CBD regulation.
The lack of clarity on CBD regulation has created confusion, causing some states to interpret FDA policy as prohibiting the use of CBD in edibles.
The FDA joined forces with the Federal Trade Commission this week to send warning letters to three CBD companies that made claims that their products “can effectively treat diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, and ‘neuropsychiatric disorders’.”
CBD companies, as providers of dietary supplements, cannot legally make unsubstantiated claims about their products, and this is not the first time the FDA has cracked down on what they see as false advertising.
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Also on Tuesday, outgoing FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb expressed concern over recent news that Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy will be selling CBD products in the future. According to Gottlieb’s tweet, those companies can expect to hear from the FDA in the near future, “to remind them of #FDA obligations.”
Politically, hemp continues to make unlikely bedfellows (so to speak) of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
On Tuesday, the two hemp advocates sent letters to federal financial regulators, urging them to provide guidance to banks that would “ease any concerns financial institutions may have with providing services to legal hemp businesses.”
The senators communicated the concerns of farmers and producers, primarily regarding accessing capital and lending services. “Hemp farmers and businesses should be treated just like any other agricultural businesses and not discriminated against,” they stated.
In Texas, lawmakers heard testimony in support of a bill that would clarify CBD’s legal status in the Lone Star State. The hearing took place in a packed room at the state capitol, where people lined up to have their say.
The bill in question, sponsored by state Rep. Tracy King, would require testing of hemp plants to prove that they do not contain more than 0.3% THC (the federally legal limit).
It would also require CBD companies operating in the state to provide consumers with lab results verifying what is in their products.
Meanwhile, in California, Sonoma County supervisors voted this week to ban hemp cultivation temporarily, citing the need for tighter regulation. “There are no approved pesticides for industrial hemp…no regulations for sampling, protocols, or labs for testing THC levels,” explained one supervisor.
The county also has a robust marijuana crop, and there are concerns that growing hemp could inflict damage on those plants. Pollen from male hemp plants could potentially cause cross-pollination with female cannabis plants, dramatically altering the outcome of the crop.
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In Sarasota, Florida, city law enforcement officials have canceled a planned crackdown on CBD products. The crackdown, which the Sarasota Police Department announced in February, aimed to take CBD off the shelves of stores, gas stations, and grocers in the city.
Sarasota police have now decided to await the outcome of House Bill 333 and Senate Bill 1020, both of which would allow Florida to set up its own hemp program as well as lay out regulations for the distribution and retail sale of hemp and hemp products,
The House bill passed its second committee on Tuesday, and the Senate bill is in its last committee stop.
On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that will allow farmers to grow hemp in the state. The bill now returns to the state House for the final vote (which it is expected to pass). This is good news for farmers that want to transition to the crop, but the bill has received criticism for its restrictive nature.
Provisions in the bill would create a more highly regulated hemp program than most states have. Hemp processing, for example, will be limited to only three state licenses. And it will be expensive, requiring a $100,000 non-refundable annual fee to bid for those licenses.
A separate bill, which will allow for medical cannabis cultivation has also passed both the Georgia House and Senate this week, and will now make its way to the governor to be signed.