This Week in CBD: May 31, 2019
Probably the biggest headline in CBD news this week went to the TSA’s about-face on cannabis products being carried onto airplanes in the U.S.
The agency updated its What Can I Bring? webpage over Memorial Day weekend to provide clarity on medical marijuana and hemp products. Before the update, the website gave an unequivocal “No” to taking any cannabis products on airplanes in carry-on items or checked baggage.
Now, the answer is a qualified “Yes:”
“Possession of marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law. TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law, including possession of marijuana and certain cannabis infused products.
Products/medications that contain hemp-derived CBD or are approved by the FDA are legal as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by the law under the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018.”
According to a TSA spokesperson, the policy change was motivated by the FDA’s approval of the CBD-based medication Epidiolex, intended for the treatment of seizures in children. However, it remains to be seen how TSA agents will determine which products are federally legal.
This week also kicks off of the FDA’s review of CBD with a much-awaited public hearing taking place on Friday, May 31. The hearing will allow 140 stakeholders in the industry to have their say on the future of CBD regulation in the U.S.
While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD at the federal level, the FDA has yet to provide a framework for regulating the substance. This has left CBD manufacturers in a bit of a tricky situation (major understatement), as they push forward with product development without clear rules from the government agency.
As it stands, there is confusion about, for example, whether manufacturers can add CBD to food and drinks, leading some states to prohibit the practice. This situation is putting pressure on the FDA to act quickly to provide clear guidance for the booming CBD industry.
On Tuesday, counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an important legal opinion which supports the legality of hemp and its interstate transportation.
This may seem redundant since the 2018 Farm Bill explicitly legalized hemp and its transport across state lines, but in fact, authorities in some states have seized hemp shipments traveling through their state (and in at least one case, charged drivers with drug trafficking).
According the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the new legal opinion clarifies that: “while states have the right to prohibit the cultivation of hemp within their borders, state and local law enforcement officials MAY NOT interfere with the interstate transportation of hemp – whether that hemp was grown in a 2014 Farm Bill-authorized pilot program, or in a future 2018 Farm Bill-authorized state hemp program.”
The courts will ultimately decide how the future of interstate hemp transport will play out, but this new legal opinion clarifies that companies shipping hemp across state lines have the backing of the USDA.
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Texas lawmakers made major strides this week in bringing the state’s cannabis law into line with the majority of other states. HB 1325, which has been sent to Governor Abbott’s desk for signing, will allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp and production of hemp products like CBD.
This is a big deal for the Lone Star State, where a woman was recently arrested at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport for carrying CBD oil in her handbag.
At the same time, another bill headed to Governor Abbott’s desk will expand Texas’ restrictive 2015 Compassionate Care Act. The 2015 version of the legislation legalized medical marijuana only for those with intractable epilepsy.
The 2019 expansion will open up the program to those with multiple sclerosis, ALS, terminal cancer, autism, or other seizure disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.
South Dakota continues to prove itself to be one of the most confusing places in the country for those wanting to buy or sell CBD. This week a Rapid City store, Staple and Spice Market, had their supplies of CBD seized by police because the products contained trace amounts of THC.
The legality of CBD in South Dakota is particularly bewildering due to differing opinions recently delivered by various state attorneys. In March, state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg stated that all forms of CBD are illegal in South Dakota. On the other hand, Pennington County’s State Attorney Mark Vargo has stated that he won’t prosecute hemp-derived CBD oil cases.