CBD infused products such as gummy bears, lattes, drinks, dietary supplements and other food products are selling quickly despite the U.S. government saying that they are illegal and some of the local authorities have even forced retailers to pull products off the market. The confusion regarding CBD legalization has led to the nation’s two largest states and others moving towards the legalization of cannabis which has potential health benefits.
Lawmakers in California and Texas are usually in opposition, however, this time both the states are pushing the bipartisan legalization to sidestep the federal law and allow sales of cannabis derived from hemp and marijuana for the potential health benefits of people. The Republicans and Democrats in Congress also are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change its stance on cannabis legalization.
Jonathan Eppers, producer of Vybes, a popular CBD oil-infused beverage had his Los Angeles warehouse raided by California health inspectors in January who impounded $100,000 worth of the drink.
He said that over 50 California retailers have dropped his product since then, he also had to move production to Texas. The estimated loss in sales, legal costs and relocation expenses have costed Eppers a whopping $500,000.
“What is going on is unbelievable and asinine. They put us in this state of limbo that’s costing us.” said Eppers.
Eppers and other people supporting CBD are mystified by the legal complications regarding the subject. Retailers in California and nine other states that have broadly legalized cannabis sell edibles that get people high, however pot is illegal under federal law.
The FDA approves cannabis only for two rare cases of epilepsy – a mental disorder – where CBD can effectively help soothe the anxiety and relieve stress. The agency says that CBD can not be added or sold in the form of any dietary supplement because officials haven’t confirmed if it’s safe or effective for other conditions.
Though the FDA has announced to hold a public hearing in May to gather more information on cannabis legalizations and its impact.
Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of FDA told Congress last week that enforcement is only limited to retailers and companies who promise false health claims. He says that the agency recently sent a warning letter joint with FTC to 3 companies touting CBD as a treatment for cancer, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia and drug addiction.
“But there are products on the market right now that, given our enforcement priorities and our limited resources, we haven’t taken action against,” he said.
Sellers and CBD users say that it helps reduce pain, swelling, anxiety and inflammation, and limited scientific research backs up these claims. CBD is turning up in an array of products including lotions, creams, roll-ons, diet pills, juices, cocktails, candy and beverages.
Cannabidiol or popularly known as CBD is a non-psychoactive component found in hemp and marijuana. Both the plants fall under the cannabis genus, however, marijuana has another compound present in high concentration – THC or tetrahydro cannabidiol – a substance which is responsible for the high that people get while consuming pot. It has psychoactive nature and can meddle with the mental state of the user. Buthemp contains as low as 0.3% THC in its flower plants because of which it is considered as safe to use. The U.S. government has stringent policies against the concentration of THC found in CBD products, if it exceeds 0.3%, it is then considered illegal marijuana that can land the sellers in jaip for over five years.
State and local officials continue to ensure that only legal CBD based products are circulating in the market. Health officials in California, the nation’s biggest marijuana marketplace, warned retailers that any edible products infused with CBD are illegal unless the lawmakers or agency says otherwise.
Despite of this, the warning was taken lightly by the producer companies and retailers until early 2019, when state and local health officials were forced to pull some of the products from the market after receiving complaints.
San Francisco health officials say that they recently barred two small operators from selling CBD infused foods and drinks, while authorities in rural Grass valley, 140 miles away, did the same to a small, cooperatively owned grocery store selling CBD infused products.
“It caught us way off guard,” said Gus Dabais, owner of Sidewalk Wellness, one of the stores targeted.
China Cashes in on Cannabis Boom Despite Being Illegal in the Country
Marijuana is a dangerous narcotic in China, and being caught possessing it incurs a grave offense. However, this does not hamper the booming production of cannabis products in the region.
China has been growing hemp for textile and alternative medicine for many centuries and remains to be one of the largest top producers in the world. The giant’s footing in the cannabis industry has given producers an edge in the booming CBD craze. CBD or cannabidiol is a derivative of the cannabis plant that is now infused in virtually anything, from pet products to skincare serums.
The heart of the production
Yunnan, a province in China’s southwestern region, is the first to make industrial cannabis legal. The farm plots in the area are filled with tall hemp fields that span miles. The plant’s flowers and leaves are harvested by hand during the fall, sun-dried, and then turned into export quality CBD oil and powder. Yang Liu, manager of some hemp fields in Qujing, Yunnan, said that the cannabis industry looks to bring great benefit to him and the farmers in the future.
China holds 11% of the $800M worldwide CBD market last year, trailing after the US and Europe.
The industry is still maturing, but manufacturers and other key players in the CBD market are investing in land to increase hemp production. It may have existed for thousands of years, but hemp growing wasn’t adequately regulated until recently, with the government now being intimately involved in the development of the CBD industry.
Henri Sant-Cassia, a CBD advocate representing Cannabis Fund who tours Asia to find new CBD enterprises, exclaimed that China is moving into the cannabidiol industry at the speed of light.
Farmers in the US are also upping their hemp cultivation to cope with the rising CBD demand. This cannabis derivative is said to relieve anxiety and pain without causing a high that marijuana gives. The Brightfield Group predicts the CBD market to grow to a $23.7B industry by 2023.
Despite the astounding numbers, China’s stance on marijuana is unlikely to bend. If anyone is found to be harboring tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-based products, they can be charged with a life sentence or worse, the death penalty. National Narcotics Control Commission deputy director Liu Yuejin said last April that China would strictly supervise industrial cannabis production amid its legalization in many countries.
Ingestible CBD is also regulated in China, which means that almost all hemp harvested and processed in China is sent overseas. It competes with other major hemp producers like Canada and the US for CBD market share.
CBD industry in China
The second province to legalize industrial cannabis farming is Heilongjiang, which is located along the Siberian border in the country’s northeastern area. Neighboring province Jilin is also poised to follow in their footsteps. Government officials are starting to encourage growers to consider hemp production, citing additional income and crop diversification as the benefits.
An influx of new companies entered China’s CBD industry recently, which Hanma Investment Group Co. Co-Founder Tan Xin believes will make it harder for newcomers to gain profit.
Since HMI started their cannabis venture in 2013, a kilo of CBD was valued at $50,000 when sold in the US, as stated by Tan Xin. In 2018, it fell to $6,000 and would most likely drop to $1,000 per kilo in 2020, according to him.
Nevertheless, Tan is positive that they can still cash in, provided that the price does not fall below the $300 mark since processing and labor cost less in China.
Untested CBD-infused Products Could Pose Health Risks as Market Grows Stronger
Cannabidiol products have recently spiked in sales and availability, granted by its popularity as an alternative cure to anxiety and pain. However, medical authorities warn about the potential health hazards of CBD and the many unproven therapeutic claims of the said substance.
Cronos, a Canadian company, recently bought a $300M CBD company, 7-Eleven stores now have CBD-dispensing robots, and HempAmericana Inc. started a live e-commerce portal to foster online CBD sales.
Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, director of the University of Wisconsin’s Doctor of Medicine-Master of Public Health Program, stated that cannabidiol might have numerous benefits, but most of these claims have not been tested for accuracy.
He cited the clinical trials of CBD for intractable seizures as the only benefit proven to be true. Intractable epilepsy is a kind of seizure that does not respond to therapy or any treatment. The CBD-containing drug, Epidiolex, is the only FDA-approved cannabidiol medication given for such cases.
Navsaria reiterated that several claims lack strong evidence for them to count.
Earlier this year, the FDA gave out warning letters to companies that sell new yet unapproved drugs that allegedly have CBD. Three of these firms are located in Florida.
CBD is widely available in stores and online, including big retailers like Walgreens.
Navsaria pointed out the lack of guarantee in terms of a product’s purity, and its active ingredients are what make it hard for medical practitioners to say yes to patients asking whether they can try CBD. It’s is the same dilemma they face for homeopathic remedies and herbal supplements, Navsaria added.
Research on CBD
Forbes revealed cases of people testing positive in urine drug tests from using CBD. This situation poses a risk for people whose jobs stipulate routine drug testing.
Natalie Schmitz, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, studied the labeling accuracy for CBD products in her research. She stated that the literature related to CBD is limited and cannot support the claims of effectiveness.
She added that further research should be done to support all claims, including the benefits of CBD for pain and anxiety so that a conclusive statement can be made.
Some studies show how CBD can cause liver problems. There is also evidence of the substance causing several side effects like irritability, fatigue, and nausea.
Schmitz further stated that there is a need for FDA-approved guidelines for standardization and state-proposed quality measurements to help ensure that CBD products do not pose health hazards for the public.
Navsaria said that people should question products that are claiming to have several benefits without proper evidence. He cited profit motive as a drive for the proliferating CBD market. He believes that sellers are taking advantage of the trend to maximize sales, making it questionable whether these products are actually made to help people.
He further added that claims could easily be made, but there is little to no support over its factual value.
Heads Up: TSA Officers Might Not Like Your CBD Oil
Cannabidiol or CBD is the wonder cure that the world is gradually noticing; Forbes reported a forecast of the industry growing to $5B this year. However, various rules and regulations in the United States question the absolute legality of the substance.
According to Dr. Peter Grinspoon from the Harvard Medical School, the confusion regarding CBD stems from it being a derivative of marijuana’s cousin plant variety, the industrial hemp. CBD is also an essential component of medical marijuana but does not cause the “high” from use.
Many agencies have changed their stance regarding the substance, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), that previously disallowed travelers from carrying CBD on board. Last May, the TSA remarked that CBD is allowed provided that it does not contain more than 0.3% THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound responsible for marijuana’s high.
Questions about TSA’s New Rule
The public raised important questions about the new rules on CBD that TSA is currently implementing. For instance, people wonder how enforcers will check the THC content of a product, so they know if it contains the right amount or not. This situation, however, can hold lines and cause disturbance for other travelers, which also leads to many issues concerning CBD.
For another, state laws and regulations are varied and hold no consistency regarding the matter. Hemp and hemp-derived products may be legal in almost all states, but cannabis purchase and use are still primarily frowned upon across the country.
What might be wise to do at this point is to evaluate the product carefully and ensure that it meets all the TSA qualifications. As a personal care product, it’s far from being a harmful item that officers watch out for, such as weapons, explosives, and other destructive equipment.
Minchul An, doctor of pharmacy for CBD seller Buzzn, suggests carrying a certificate of analysis to clarify the product’s ingredients, which could help supplement the information found on the labeling. However, this document may only be available upon request.
Varying degrees of state rules and regulations
In the United States, laws and regulations for CBD differ from state to state.
Travis Rexroad, Weedmaps public relations director, stated that there are nuances to consider when flying with CBD on hand. He added that although the federal government has made its move to legalize CBD derived from hemp, there are still states that implement stricter laws on the substance. This could lead to travelers facing the consequences if they are found to have CBD with them.
NBC Miami reported the case of a 69-year0old lady who was arrested at Disney World Florida last April when authorities found CBD in her purse. They detained her for 15 hours for carrying what she said was a doctor-recommended product for her arthritis.
CO-Head William Garvin of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a law firm that advocates for the cannabis industry, said that CBD is nothing like the usual consumer products. He made an example of Diet Coke, which one can buy in Missouri and carry all the way to Montana. This case is not acceptable to CBD due to conflicting laws between states.
Experts and advocates like An and Garvin do not advise traveling with CBD due to the risks. Expensive CBD products could be confiscated, or worse, the traveler could miss their flight. All of these problems are dependent on the destination and the laws on CBD that the state implements.
Garvin added that it’s more practical to buy CBD oil from wherever the traveler is going to since it is widely available across many states. Ultimately, it is up to the person carrying CBD if they are amenable to facing the risks of traveling with the product.
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