An explanation of the farm bill, hemp legalization, and cbd legal status

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On Monday, December 17, 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill after months of negotiations, and on Thursday, President Trump signed the 807-page document into law. This bill sets the stage for the big CBD boom with a huge wave of new products like CBD coffee, CBD skincare and CBD-everything… to a degree.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a lot to say about which CBD products can be legally produced and how they can be marketed. The US Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, acts as the approving authority for hemp cultivation plans in the states. However, each state is responsible for creating its own hemp laws and hemp cultivation programs. This means that the Farm Bill leaves a lot of ambiguity between state and federal policy.

What the 2018 Farm Bill Says About Hemp

First of all, it is important to distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana. Both are types of Hemp, but industrial hemp has a special definition in the Farm Bill:

Hemp. Cannabis sativa L. plant species and any part of that plant, including its seeds, and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers having a delta-0.3 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 9 percent on a dry weight basis, whether growing or not .

Establishment of a domestic hemp production program (2019, October 31). USDA Interim Rule.

Although both marijuana and hemp are varieties of the species Cannabis sativa , industrial hemp is classified by law to contain less than 0.3% of the psychoactive compound delta-9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Simply put, hemp will not get you high and you are not expected to get high! Marijuana, on the other hand, is hemp containing more than 0,3 percent delta-9-THC.

The Farm Bill describes all legal requirements that must be met by hemp farmers, CBD extractors and cannabinoid testing laboratories. However, the implementation of the relevant regulatory processes is delegated to state governments and the FDA.

Due to FDA guidance and interpretation of the Farm Bill, not all hemp and CBD products are currently legal. The FDA has approved the pharmaceutical drug Epidiolex, a CBD isolate. They are using this as a reason to claim that all CBD isolates are now a pharmaceutical ingredient and must comply with pharmaceutical regulations and manufacturing processes.

Therefore, retail CBD isolates exist in a very large “gray area”. Retail CBD companies cannot register with the FDA and do not use pharmaceutical manufacturing practices. The FDA has therefore blocked retailers from producing CBD isolate in a compliant manner.

A similar problem exists for products such as CBD gummies. The FDA has stated that CBD cannot be added to food. However, these products are on the market and the FDA has not provided a solution to the companies that produce them.

Is CBD a Dietary Supplement?

The main problem between the FDA and CBD is that such products are generally regulated as dietary supplements. However, the FDA does not allow companies that produce CBD to register as such.

This means that CBD products cannot be marketed as dietary supplements. This also means that even if a company wants to fully comply with FDA requirements, it is not possible to do so! The FDA apparently allows CBD to be used as a cosmetic or topical ingredient as long as no health claims are made and the products do not contain transdermal carriers such as DMSO.

The FDA has sent and will continue to send warning letters to companies that do not comply with CBD policies.

Can I Buy CBD in My State?

Not necessarily. The Farm Bill says that while these federal guidelines already exist, each state is still free to create its own regulatory framework for industrial hemp.

Right now, each state has its own views on hemp, and that doesn’t look like it will end just because of the Farm Bill. For example, while hemp is legal in most states, Idaho and South Dakota do not have permit policies to legalize hemp and do not allow hemp cultivation.

Final Thoughts on the Farm Bill

Obviously, there are still many uncertainties swirling around the CBD landscape. But overall, the Farm Bill has paved the way for the hemp market in the US. Many issues still need to be resolved, including state-specific hemp cultivation, testing methods, reporting standards, and ultimately the FDA’s approval pathway for retail CBD products.

Farm Bill 2020 Updates

The hemp and CBD industry had hoped that 2020 would be the year that the FDA would provide a clear regulatory pathway for CBD. However, as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, vaccine development has taken center stage. CBD companies still operate in a regulatory “gray area”. Many are doing what they can, but others are failing. The FDA has responded by continuing to send warning letters to CBD companies making health claims and other violations.

YouTube video: An explanation of the Farm Bill, hemp legalization, and CBD legal status


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