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To Have Or Not To Have! CBD Confusion Rages In New York City

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CBD oil

The state officials of New York state were one of the pioneers to announce the infusion of CBD in chocolates and tea for alleviating anxiety and similar ailments without creating the high of marijuana. However, the health inspectors of New York City have recently seized CBD-infused products worth thousands of dollars from the Fat Cat Kitchen and similar restaurants. Its owners have also been warned from selling the same or face possible penalties. These incidents were reported within just weeks of CBD becoming legal all across the country.

NYC Crackdown

Various inconsistencies have emerged in state, local and federal rules pertaining to CBD in the New York City which has made its growing business community succumb to heavy losses.C.J. Holm, the owner of the Fat Cat Kitchen pointed out that, “I’m trying to be compliant with the law, but no one seems to be fully aware of what the law is and isn’t.”

Piecemeal legalization of marijuana has lead to the growth of consumer interest in CBD-infused edibles, topical creams and tinctures. This also received the legal certification of being sold as a recreational or medical drug in 33 of its states in spite of being banned by federal laws.

Interest Of Food Giants

A report published by the Cowen Washington Research Group in 2018 revealed that an estimated $300 million was spent by U.S. consumers on CBD food and drinks in the same year. This led to growing interest of other food and drink manufacturers like the Coca-Cola Company and many more for reaping its unearthed potential.

2018 Farm Bill

This was enacted for clearing up the legal status of CBD by legalizing usage of cannabis extracts derived from the hemp plant. These are known to contain extremely low levels of THC which is the main psychoactive trigger in marijuana.

Confusion Galore

The law gave rise to further confusion in terms of business houses wishing to sell CBD infused food or drink. It became almost impossible to abide by one set of regulations without breaching the another.

A guidance was issued by the officials belonging to the State Department of Agriculture in December terming “chocolates with CBD drizzle,”“CBD tea,” and other CBD edibles as legal provided they were manufactured and marketed as dietary supplements. It is imperative to note here that these supplements have to adhere to more stringent guidelines when compared to ordinary food.

The department also made it very clear that doing the same will be in direct contradiction to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules as it has specifically termed addition of CBD to food as a totally unlawful act. The agency had shown green signal to a CBD-infused drug for the very first time last year which paved the path for more confusion to follow.The health inspectors of New York City are seriously considering this legislation.

Confiscation

The owner of Fat Cat Kitchen was thus taken by surprise when all her CBD infused snacks, honey and even raw cookie dough was confiscated in February. Similar scenes could also be seen in four other eateries spread across the city. Holm and her peer restaurant owners received a letter from the department which notified that the seizures shall be initiated by inspectors post 1st July.

Till now it is unclear about the sale of CBD edibles by the cafes and restaurants as dietary supplements in spite of receiving the legal backing of New York state officials.

Standpoint Of FDA & Health Department

Health Department spokesman Michael Lanza revealed that they were simply acting as per the ban of FDA on CBD-infused food and drink. However, FDA spokesman declined commenting on the New York regulations.

Maine, Colorado and some other states have tried to pass laws for allowing CBD infusion to food and drinks. Although CBD is presently a listed drug, FDA might allow its enlisting as a dietary supplement or food additive in days to come. A public forum shall be held in Maryland on May 31st for addressing this burning issue.

CBD Vendors Speak

Holm and her fellow CBD vendors are trying to devise their very own strategies which shall be compliant with the legal standpoints. Igor Yakovlev, the manufacturer of CBD-infused BeezyBeez Honey has started printing a disclaimer stating that his product has not yet been “evaluated or approved” by FDA.

Holm consulted her lawyer and came to the conclusion that FDA has imposed a ban on the addition of CBD to food meant for “interstate commerce.”This is why she feels it is perfectly fine to sell CBD coffee provided the extract is both produced and processed in New York.

Cortland based farmer Allan Gandelman, who founded the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association earlier this year vented out his frustration by saying that, “It is so confusing because you can ask three different attorneys and get three different answers.” He further added that, “so you decide you’re going to blaze a path forward, and produce a product that customers really want, and go for it until the government gets its act together.”

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Texas Bill Receives The Green Signal Of Legalizing Hemp, Awaits Final Nod Of Legislature

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Texas Senate Hemp Bill

Amidst massive confusion pertaining to the sale of CBD products in Texas, a bill has been approved by state lawmakers for legalizing the production of industrial hemp. House Bill 1325 received unanimous votes in its favor from the Senate on Wednesday. The ultimate decision now rests upon the House lawmakers who can either agree or disagree to the amendments made by the Senate to the bill.

Possibilities Of The Bill

The bill would go straight to the desk of governor Greg Abbott for his signature or veto if the House agrees to the same or negotiators are named by both the chambers for hashing out their differences and ultimately signing off the deal. Rep. Tracy King is hopeful about Abbott signing the bill and giving it the recognition of a proper legislature in upcoming days.

King, D-Batesville announced after the Senate vote that, “I’m excited, I’m excited.” He further added that “A lot of folks around the state are looking forward to clarity on the issue — and the ability to grow and participate in industrial hemp.”

Controversy Surrounding CBD

Both marijuana and hemp fall under the same cannabis plant family. However, hemp has low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC which is the psychoactive compound infamous for making us feel high following its consumption. Hemp has been removed by the federal government from its list of controlled substances and a similar move was replicated in Texas last month.

Unlike the 42 other states, Texas has not opted for industrial hemp production. Products having any form of THC content is still deemed to be illegal in Texas as the state law has defined both hemp and marijuana in similar lines. The only exception to this general philosophy happens when hemp or marijuana is used in accordance with the state medical cannabis laws.

What To Expect Next

A federally approved program is expected to be set up by the King’s bill for Texas farmers so that they can grow hemp as a crop. This shall include procedures of sampling, testing, and inspection. All hemp or hemp-derived products having less than 0.3% THC content will also receive the green signal of being legally purchased in Texas. CBD or cannabidiol will receive a legal standing once the bill turns into law and provided it contains a low level of THC

What About Marijuana

Marijuana, however, shall still remain illegal. This fact was especially underlined by the senators during Wednesday’s debate. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, enquired the bill sponsor, “Can this stuff be smoked?” before adding that, “Nowadays people smoke anything.” Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, answered negatively to this question stating that the bill expressly prohibits both manufacture and processing of hemp products which are meant to be smoked. He further added that retailers who are selling CBD products meant for human consumption need specific registration with the state.

Perry was backed up in this point by his fellow Republicans. Sen. Pete Flores, R-San Antonio said, “This is no slippery slope toward marijuana.” GOP Sen. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown pointed out that, “I want to clarify so the people of Texas know — this is not legalized marijuana.”

Bottom Line

Perry feels that this bill is going to tremendously help farmers who can cash in on this craze for producing this drought-resistant crop. He was quoted as saying that, “When Texas does something and does it right, we usually become the market leaders.” Once this bill becomes a solid law, this will mark a meaningful change in hemp and marijuana legislation of Texas. Although this particular bill marks the beginning of a paradigm change in the cannabis industry, various other bills for expanding medical cannabis laws of the state and bringing down penalties for marijuana possession are in the pipeline of being implicated.

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New Zealand to become the first Asian-Pacific Country to legalize medicinal marijuana

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Medical marijuana

The world is shouting out loud for legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes! From the western skies of the United States to the royal United Kingdom’s and every member in between is deciding whether to make cannabis legal or not.

New Zealanders will be voting on cannabis legalization in a referendum next year. The draft law under consideration would permit people over the age of 20 to legally purchase the drug. The referendum will be held during the 2020 general election, the government announced on Tuesday.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said that the vote would be binding, but it will ultimately be in the hands of the next administration whether they want to enact the legislation or not.

 

Outline of the leaked cannabis paper for 2020 referendum

Andrew said that the voters would be asked a simple ‘Yes/No’ question on the basis of a draft piece of legislation. Questions in the draft would include some important things that will be considered after the legalisation of cannabis like-

  • The minimum age for using and purchasing recreational cannabis.
  • Regulatory framework and commercial supply controls, maintaining a balance in cannabis use and sales to licensed premises.
  • Marketing reforms about cannabis-based products and their advertising.
  • Checks on home-grown and private cultivation of cannabis.
  • A public education program to discuss about the safe use of cannabis for medical purposes and reduce the stigma associated with it.

These points were drawn from what seems to be the leaked cannabis paper which will be discussed in the referendum. It outlines the crucial points for discussion and voting, and also talks about the questions that will be asked in the referendum.

Paula Bennett, National’s Drug Reform spokesperson said that the cabinet will consider all the 4 questions laid out in the Cannabis paper, however it seems that irrespective of what option is chosen by the legislative, it will have huge loop holes. These loop holes will need to be filled in and taken care of before they adversely affect the consumers.

The leaked paper is quite light on the details and discusses about cannabis legalization briefly. It doesn’t talk about taxation imposed on marijuana, fiscal revenues related to the drug, consumption and distribution regulation and many other important things.

If the reform fails next year, cannabis legalization would be put on hold for another good amount of years making users wait and patients suffer.

 

Biggest opportunity for cannabis legalization reforms

Andrew said that the coalition government was committed “to a health-based approach to drugs, to minimize harm and take control away from criminals.” The referendum would bring more clarity on the subject. In fact, it was part of a confidence and supply agreement the Green party negotiated with the governing Labour party.

Green Party MP, Chloe Swarbrick said that the vote presented the “greatest opportunity for cannabis law reform our country has seen in 40 years.” She further added that the draft legislation will outline concise and clear regulatory regime to avoid any potential of a ‘Brexit’ situation because people will know how their actions would change the future course of action and how these changes will be implemented in their lives.

 

What if a the majority votes are a ‘yes’?

The situation about cannabis legalization is quite dicey in New Zealand, even if the motion gets majority votes to legalize cannabis, it is not imperative that the laws would be implemented right away. It could probably take years before the laws are enacted and come into action.

Andrew said that the voters choice would be binding because all the parties that form up the current government have committed to respect the outcome from the voting. Butthe poll is scheduled to take place during the 2020 election, which means it will be a new parliament that will finally decide whether to legalize cannabis or not. The opposition centre-right National Party has not yet said whether it will honor the referendum for cannabis legalization or not.

After the federal law which created a statutory defense for terminally ill patients to use cannabis without the fear of getting arrested or charged, New Zealand is also on its way to incorporate cannabis in their structure. A majority of ‘Yes’ votes in the next year’s referendum could make New Zealand the first Asian-Pacific country to approve of marijuana for recreational purposes.

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CBD oil will be seized at Bush and Hobby airports- Texas officials stay firm at the 0% THC rule

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CBD oil

Image Credits: Houston

Despite the federal law legalizing hemp derived cannabinoid, many airport officials have been seizing CBD oil and its products in the U.S. The federal agents have warned people using CBD oil that it could possibly land them in trouble if they try to take it with them to the airport.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, at least 41 travellers at Bush and Hobby airports had their CBD oil seized by the federal agents in 2018 alone.

Alicia Tellez, a watch commander for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the Bush airport said that passengers should be aware of the stringent regulations against carrying CBD oil at the airport. She further added that even travellers crossing through the ports of the entry gate may have their luggage checked and searched for CBD oil, including their carry-ons.

TSA officials say that while their focus is not just searching illegal drugs on domestic flights, if in case, anything is found suspicious, they do involve the police officials. CBD is now a legal compound after the Farm bill passed in December 2018. It is known to be an anti-inflammatory compound which helps relieve pain, stress, anxiety, depression and improves sleep patterns.

CBD is derived from hemp plant, a cannabis genus plant which is non-psychoactive in nature. It is also known to treat severe ailments such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and cancer. But there are no recognized research or study backing up these claims, just real-life experiences from patients.

The federal law allows CBD with 0.3% of THC, tetrahydro cannabinoid, another compound found in cannabis plants which is a psychoactive chemical that alters the state of mind. It is also the main compound which is responsible for the ‘high’ that users get while smoking weed.

Despite of the legal threshold limit for THC concentration in CBD products, many states are following the previous limits – 0% THC concentration – which is making it difficult for people to buy and carry CBD products, especially through airports.

Airport Customs and Border Protection agents are armed with kits that can easily determine the purity of a bottle of CBD oil on the spot without any delay. Tellez said that if a passenger is suspected of carrying a controlled substance, they will test that substance and it would hardly take a few seconds to reveal the concentration of CBD and THC present.

If any traces of THC are detected, the Houston Police narcotics officials are called to the scene and arrests are possible.The Customs and Border Protection agents did not clarify on the amount of THC a passenger could get trouble in, but they said that even if someone is found carrying CBD oil, they could get arrested.

Fox 26 asked Houston Police about the seizing incidents and arrests for CBD oil at the Bush and Hobby airports. They didn’t have much information ready at the hand, but said they were working on it.

With different states taking CBD legalization differently, it is becoming quite confusing for people to understand whether CBD is legal in their state or not. Some states are boosting the decision by giving permits to universities for further research and study in CBD and its effects, others are putting massive barriers even for patients to get a bottle of CBD oil for their treatment.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows CBD in a drug which is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy. The agency announced a public hearing in May to discuss the effects of the drug and how it could be safely implemented in the current market to serve to people’s needs. It will form a regulatory framework to monitor the use of CBD in products and also build an internal team of members which will ensure CBD is used effectively.

Till then, the confusions stay afloat amongst companies that are looking forward for creating CBD based products and for people who are looking out for CBD as an alternative treatment for their ailments.

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