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.
CBD State Laws Sending Farmers into Uncertainty at Taunton
Dighton Avenue has seen the growth of 101 hemp plants in a hemp-growing operation ever since they were planted a month ago. According to Andrew Wilkinson and his partner Adam Souza, these hemp plants are ready to be harvested within October.
Looking For Clarity
Like Wilkinson and Souza, many young hemp entrepreneurs in Taunton are still waiting for a clear signal on what kinds of CBD infused products can be sold in shops and stores without any repercussions from the law. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is obtained from hemp. Although hemp is a close relative of the Cannabis sativa plant, unlike its derivative marijuana, hemp has a very little amount of THC, the major psychoactive component that can give users a “high”. CBD is not psychoactive and has been shown to have some health benefits. The hemp plant is also industrially produced to manufacture ropes, clothes and some consumer products, making it a valuable resource for international business. Due to the uncertain murky state laws, selling CBD-infused products is still largely difficult in the USA, although countries like Canada have advanced far in CBD regulations.
Entrepreneurs Are Still Hopeful
Wilkinson and Souza have mentioned that there is still some hope, now that a bill has been introduced in June in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The bill was produced as a response to a statement regarding sale 0f hemp products. The policy statement was issued and earlier in June and will soon be signed into law by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Resources. For the policy to be signed, the Legislature may have to go for emergency legislation, which was done in Maine last March. In Maine, the bill legalized the sale and production of food and additives containing hemp derived products. As of June, the policy statement issued from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources explicitly prohibits the sale of any dietary supplement or food infused with CBD.
CBD Business Slowly Blooming
The bill was filed by state Representative Mark Cusack, who hopes that with its approval, the restrictions on CBD will be eliminated, by declaring that CBD is not a controlled substance and that anything containing CBD should be considered as ingestible foods. The Good Vibes Wellness Center on Weir Street sells many kinds of CBD products such as chocolate bars, gummies, and liquid tinctures. According to Deborah Black, the co-owner of the shop, the restrictive policies haven’t yet affected the shop’s business, which opened this April. She mentioned that all her products are manufactured by licensed authorities and tested within Massachusetts by a laboratory who specialize in marijuana testing. None of her products are sold as dietary supplements. Tinctures applied under the tongue and chocolates fall into the murky parts of the law according to Black, who also states that CBD is incapable of intoxicating.
Both Souza and Wilkinson belong to the Massachusetts Hemp Coalition, who are trying to push an emergency bill to the Legislature. They hope to gain investors so that they can gradually become the first mass processors of CBD-infused oil. Manufacturers in Massachusetts still outsource their purchases of CBD products from other states who have far more relaxed laws such as Connecticut and Sacramento. Their processing facility may charge a fee or percentage of crop yields. They call their farm Herban Acres. Wilkinson is a full-time employee at a medical lab and established a vegetable farm in 2018. With the passing of the Federal Farm Bill in 2018, he took this as an opportunity to make more money as hemp is valuable.
CBD products in UK were found to have high THC levels
Excessively high THC levels
In a study by PhytoVista and Centre for Medical Cannabis of the UK, it’s been reported that over half of the 30 products containing CBD in Europe were tested to have THC levels that are two times more than the accepted limit which is 0.2%. The article was just published this month.
The study reports 45% of the products that contained THC had about 0.4% mean content of THC. Tested products were those that are being sold online and in stores.
Solvents found in CBD products
Apart from the excessive levels of THC found in the products, the research has also found that only around 38% of the tested products actually contained the actual CBD content advertised. Moreover, also 38% of the products contained less than 50% of the amount of the CBD that they claim to have. This is very disappointing especially to those who highly rely on the CBD content of these products.
Surprisingly, a sample of a 30ml product obtained from a shop contained 0% CBD. The said product retailed for £90. Even one product contained higher levels of ethanol than the recommended amount which is 3.4% which in the UK, is the level of ethanol in alcoholic beverages. Moreover, seven of the products tested were even found to contain the solvent dichloromethane of around 3-13 ppm. Cyclohexane, also a solvent, was found in a product at a level of 27.9 ppm.
Although the levels of solvent contained in these products are within the limits recommended, they still exceed the levels recommended for food safety. CMC stated that the results of the study should serve as a guide for the CBD industry in coming up with products that abide by the standards and are high-quality products that abide by the standards. Furthermore, CMC also encourages producers to make use of these findings to make necessary steps to assure that this will not happen again.
RPS wants clear guidelines on THC products
These data gave a push to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) of the UK to request the government for specific guidelines with regards to tetrahydrocannabinol or THC levels in products like CBD oils.
In the letter to the Home Secretary, the RPS said that they were willing to come up and give advice with regards to specific steps they should make so that no one would break the law with regards to products containing CBD. Pharmacists also demanded guidance with regards to the legality of CBD product handling. They also called out on the out-dated laws concerning CBD.
They also add that in the UK, it is legal to sell CBD just as long as they don’t include any medical claims in their marketing. Furthermore, the limit of THC is only up to 0.2%.
CBD Oil Will Now Travel the World
Cannabidiol has been facing a lot of controversies recently, even when it has been proven to not display any addictive or intoxicating behavior. Regardless, the widespread acceptance for this substance is growing all around the world. Recent evidence lies with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) updating their policies to allow passengers to carry CBD oil and some other forms of FDA approved medicinal marijuana on board for both inbound and outbound flights.
Even until recently, all luggage and carry-on bags were checked by the TSA to ensure that no form of Cannabis is taken on board. Since last Sunday, that policy has been updated on TSA’s website without any formal notification or through news update. This may have been because of the growing controversies surrounding this issue and the TSA itself, and the authorities did not want to attract any form of attention through this change of regulation.
Limitations and Extent
The new regulation allows the passengers to carry marijuana meant for medicinal purposes as well as the products that contain CBD oil derived from hemp. Furthermore, these products are approved as long as they have been derived from products that follow the production regulations that have been defined by the law in the December 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing Hemp and its derivatives.
However, the rules still do not exempt products with higher THC content, which are still illegal under federal law. This includes any form of marijuana that is not FDA approved or being used for a medical purpose. Although it’s still unclear how the agency plans on determining the THC levels of the products, their spokesperson hinted that any suspicions would be confirmed through contacting the law enforcement agencies, meaning that the TSA would not be doing any testing.
Allowed Forms of Medication
Epidiolex, a known form of CBD medication, has been explicitly allowed on both domestic and international flights. This medicine, along with all other forms of CBD oils that are approved by the FDA is allowed to be taken on board with the passengers without any interference from the TSA.
Many such medications are used as a substitute for opiates as painkillers and can even help alleviate the dependency on such substances. Apart from that, they have been known to provide relief against any forms of sleeping disorders and help induce sleep in its imbiber. This is useful for the passengers due to the in-flight resting conditions not being suitable for most of the elderly passengers. Apart from that, CBD has been known to be a prescription treatment for people suffering from epileptic seizures as well as help reduce anxiety and stress.
With this new policy out there, advocates of CBD use are one step closer to realizing their dreams and can sigh in relief, knowing that no more people will be arrested for trying to take their medications on-board of a flight. The TSA’s this new regulation might just be something that redeems their already sketchy reputation amongst the general population. We say you’ve just earned a thumbs up, TSA!
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