So-called cannabis pioneer states like California, Oregon and Colorado have pushed the envelope on recreational cannabis products, including non-psychoactive products like CBD- and terpene-infused food and beverages. The trend is driven by a skyrocketing “canna-curious” consumer base, whose interest has been piqued by emerging scientific evidence establishing the therapeutic potential of non-psychoactive cannabis compounds.
CBD is far and away the most successful category within the legal cannabis industry’s infused foods space. This is likely due to key changes in federal laws around hemp, outlined in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, known more commonly as the Farm Bill.
A Quick Look at the 2018 Farm Bill
CBD may be added to certain foods and beverages, like gummies, according to a law passed by the United States Congress under the 2018 Farm Bill. The law was enacted as part of an effort to create legal avenues for hemp products derived from parts of the plant that contain less than 0.3% THC. The law doesn’t affect cannabis products that are marketed for medical purposes.
The 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law by President Trump on December 20, 2018 after gaining Congressional approval. The new law specifically classifies hemp under federal statute as an agricultural commodity, rather than a controlled substance. This opens up opportunities to increase the industry’s access to research funding, banking services, water rights, and other legal protections.
As written, the Farm Bill allows CBD to be sold in food products marketed for human consumption. However, companies that wish to sell infused products (including those with CBD sourced from hemp) within the United States must file an application with the Drug Enforcement Agency for approval to do so.
In California, Governor Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 45 (AB45) into law, allowing hemp-derived CBD in food, beverages and dietary supplements sold within the Golden State. This includes small business or homemade creations, like brownies infused with organic CBD drops. Let’s go over the particulars of the original 2018 Farm Bill, as well as what changes have been added in the new California CBD food bill.
How Did The Farm Bill Transform the CBD Industry?
The Farm Bill came at a critical time in the cannabis industry, as public opinion has rapidly shifted over the past few years in favor of legal marijuana and cannabis-based products, particularly the consumption of CBD as a form of preventative health supplementation.
CBD is already found in many hemp food products on the market; however, it’s never been legal to add CBD to certain foods or beverages marketed for human consumption. The Farm Bill makes it possible for companies to sell these types of products by giving them access to banking services and other legal protections, provided they pass the FDA application process.
The Farm Bill clarifies that CBD and other hemp-based compounds derived from cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC are not controlled substances as long as they are made from parts of the plant that contain no psychoactive properties, such as mature hemp stalks or seeds. In addition to this clarification under federal statute, it’s now possible for companies to import hemp materials from foreign countries in order to produce these products.
The 2018 Farm Bill does not change the legal status of cannabis or any product that is marketed for medical purposes, meaning that businesses who wish to sell CBD-infused foods must continue to seek federal approval before they can market them commercially.
What Changes in California Under Their Latest Bill?
Key provisions within California’s AB45 infused foods bill run contrary to existing FDA guidelines. Mainly, its affirmation that food items, beverages and dietary supplements sold within the Golden State are unadulterated by the inclusion of “industrial hemp or cannabinoids, extracts, or derivatives from industrial hemp,” meaning they are inviolate to the Sherman Food Drug and Cosmetic Law (FD&C).
This will likely serve to add to the confusion around national infused food laws and regulations. However, instate food and beverage companies may be able to enjoy more freedom from strict federal guidelines for the time being — provided they pay close attention to further developments on the issue after the FDA’s forthcoming response.