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Federal Agencies Have Given Warnings to Employees on CBD Use

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Federal Agencies warn employees on CBD

Several federal agencies handed out a series of notices regarding cannabidiol products to their employees this summer, making CBD advocates wonder if these were due to the government-wide initiative to bring awareness to the said cannabis compound.

Truth comes in the form of one federal organization overseeing every agency’s workplace policies on drug testing. They sent a memo to various government agencies, including the Department of Defense, NASA, and the Coast Guard, asking respective heads to inform employees regarding CBD following hemp and hemp-derived products’ legalization.

The SAMHSA

The SAMHSA or Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration handed out a notice last July 24, which stated that although the Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived CBD since December of 2018, the THC levels found in such products still aren’t certified by the FDA or Food and Drug Administration.

They also cited that the lack of FDA oversight on hemp-derived products may cause mislabeling and confusion regarding the allowable concentration of THC, which could reflect on drug test results. This, despite the law stating that hemp may contain less than 0.3% THC content.

This lack of regulation from the FDA will cause the penalization of federal employees who obtain positive for THC testing, regardless of whether they only claim to have taken CBD alone. It is stated in the SAMHSA notice, first reported by NBC Washington.

Director for the Division of Workplace Programs at SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Ronald F. Flegel, wrote that a positive marijuana test result does not have any legal, medical explanation under the division’s Drug-Free Workplace Program; unless the person is taking prescription drugs like Sativex, Marinol and any other generic equivalent.

Flegel reminded medical officers and drug program coordinators in every federal agency that the policy for marijuana use still hasn’t changed despite the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Thus, they must make an effort to update employees and applicants that using CBD may yield positive drug test results.

Notices from different agencies

Various federal agencies have already sent out memos regarding CBD policies to their respective employees following the warnings from the SAMHSA.

NASA warned workers about the dangers of CBD that may contain higher THC levels, which may jeopardize their employment. Similarly, the Navy and the Department of Defense barred members from taking CBD despite its federal legality.

The Coast Guard has also insisted on sailors last July that marijuana is still prohibited. Their memo also stated that visiting state dispensaries and using online cannabis sites are not allowed. CBD was not mentioned in the notice.

On the other hand, the Air Force issued a memo before the said SAMHSA notice, saying their Airmen are discouraged from using CBD and CBD-containing products.

SAMHSA’s notice does not cover the government’s legislative branch, however. Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer brought two samples of CBD products at a committee hearing, stating that many members of Congress also take CBD like him.

Lawmakers from both parties are appealing to the FDA to hasten its policy-making on CBD products so that supplements and food containing the substances may be marketed lawfully. They also urge the FDA to issue discretion guidance on the enforcement of laws for established CBD companies.

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Policy

State Bill Requires Lab Testing for CBD Products to Ensure Safety

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Illinois proposes new CBD Bill

A new bill introduced at Illinois’ legislative department last Wednesday could subject various CBD products sold at Walgreens, other retailers, and gas stations to a regulated laboratory testing.

Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield) penned the bill that requires every CBD product being sold across the state to meet standard testing requirements developed by the Department of Agriculture.

Answering the need for legislation

CBD-containing products that include oils to caramels to dog treats and bath bombs have taken over the retail market in less than a year. CBD or cannabidiol is the compound extracted from cannabis that does not cause a “high” to its users.

Such items are popular due to CBD being claimed as a miracle remedy for many health conditions like chronic pain and anxiety. However, this substance is still mostly unregulated as of writing. There are a few products that undergo third-party testing as evidence that they contain safe CBD levels, but a standard requirement is yet to be established.

Morgan believes that having such legislation gives the DA the authority to guarantee a product’s safety to consumers.

Chicago CBD company Equilibria Co-Founder Coco Meers stated that there is a wide range of safety and health concerns regarding CBD. Heavy metals, harmful pesticides, and even the incredible amount of CBD in creams might affect the therapeutic benefits of CBD, says Meers.

She also recalled how their search for a supply partner was affected by the lack of regulation and consistency. She stated that everything might be called CBD, but not all of it has the same formulation.

CBD products for sale will be required under the proposed bill to be tested or else be removed from retail stores and online shops, according to Morgan. Projected fines start from $1,000 and rise as violations also add up.

The bill, if passed, will enable the creation of the CBD Safety Fund to which fines will be allocated for enforcement.

Catching up on regulations

President Donald Trump signed legislation late last year that allowed industrial hemp to be cultivated, which is the variety from which CBD is extracted. It has prompted federal regulators to catch up on the many products entering the market.

A study by Brightfield Group, a Chicago-based CBD researching firm, forecasted the industry to grow into a $23.7B market in 2023. Sales for 2019 is also expected to rise to $5B, which is over 700% increase from 2018.

Some states in the US are establishing regulations for CBD products. In Indiana, the labels on such items should have a QR code that contains information like the product ingredients. In California, CBD-containing food will be required by a proposed bill to use hemp cultivated only from licensed industrial hemp growers working under their hemp program.

LeafyQuick Co-Founder Rahul Easwar reiterated that the products sold by their Chicago-based company are tested, even if customers rarely ask about it.

He added that consumers are more curious about flavors available rather than third-party testing, so a statewide regulated test could guarantee a buyer’s safety from harmful products.

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Missouri Adopts ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Sell’ Policy on Taxes Related to CBD Sales

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Missouri CBD Law

Tax officials in Missouri are doubting the legality of CBD-containing products being sold in stores, especially since such products are still largely unregulated.

As per documents, Joel Walters who was a former Director for the Department of Revenue, raised a question to Eric Schmitt, Attorney General, for his opinion last March regarding the issuance of sales tax licenses by the department to companies that sell CBD, a popular hemp extract.

Raising a Concern

Walters suggested that CBD products sold by retail may not be lawful under the 2014 law stating that the Missouri Department of Agriculture granted only two companies to legally cultivate hemp and then extract CBD hemp oil from their harvest.

The said law further states that the extract should only be for the use of patients who undergo treatment for intractable epilepsy.

Walters reasoned that CBD oil products sold in a store might not be legal based on the 2014 law, which then makes their department question whether it is lawful to license such products legally.

He further stated at the inquiry that the department still has not made a stance regarding the issue because the information provided to their department was uncertain and inconsistent. He noted how there were differing opinions from several agencies, which prompted him to approach the Attorney General’s office for legal assistance on the said matter.

Schmitt’s office decided to hide the opinion from the public, unlike other legal opinions asked of them, which they release within 90 days.

Missouri’s Sunshine Law

Schmitt and his office were not required to publicize their opinion due to Missouri’s Sunshine Law, as stated by spokesman Chris Nuelle on his interview with Post-Dispatch.

Similarly, the Department of Revenue made no release of their opinion.

While none of the opinions was made public, the current outcome from the exchange between these two offices has given rise to businesses getting a sales tax license. However, they should not say that they are selling CBD oil at their stores.

Anne Marie Moy, the spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, stated last Friday that the agency did not issue any approval on applications for retail sales tax registration from stores selling CBD oil. However, she said that they might have given tax licenses to companies that did not indicate the sale of CBD oil in their application.

Retailers in Missouri have risen in number, which determined Revenue’s stance on the matter. In the St. Louis area alone, there are more than twenty retailers that have opened in the past three years.

More about CBD

CBD or cannabidiol is an active component Cannabis sativa L.  or the cannabis plant. It does not cause the high that marijuana is infamous for; it’s rather popular for being a natural remedy with many health benefits, including pain and anxiety.

CBD has become legalized at the federal level because of the 2018 Farm Bill, which exempted hemp from controlled substances as long as it does not have more than 0.3% of THC, the cannabis derivative responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana.

However, it is still murky when applied to CBD since the said substance can be extracted from both the marijuana and hemp variety.

In Missouri, a new law passed this year has further loosened hemp rules within the state. The next growing season will also be the first time in a century where hemp is grown widely across the state.

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Feds Warn CBD Manufacturers About Therapeutic Claims for Depression, Arthritis, Cancer and More

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Fed warns CBD companies

Companies selling CBD are being urged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to discontinue promoting unfounded therapeutic claims on their manufactured products.

The companies received three letters, which were a warning to businesses selling cannabis-containing products that they might face legal liability once they make unsubstantiated claims. The FTC singled out a few companies, all unnamed, that are marketing CBD products such as oils, gummies, creams, and capsules.

They were warned for promoting their respective products as treatment or cure to grave diseases and other health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, depression, fibromyalgia, arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and cigarette addiction.

Irresponsible Marketing

Some of the products were labeled as miracle remedies or are said to work like magic. Companies also indicate that long hours of research have been spent to justify such claims.

In the letter addressed to the companies, the FTC stated that it is unlawful to promote products that treat, cure or prevent illnesses without undergoing rigorous research and dependable scientific evidence that backs up any claim.

The FDA has also set out warnings earlier this year following the spread of unapproved CBD products advertised as miracle remedies for serious conditions such as cancer. The FDA reiterated that such claims can endanger consumers and lead them to disregard the recommended medical care by health professionals.

Furthermore, the agency has also reprimanded a few companies for allegedly deceiving buyers for marketing products that are still unapproved and untested.

As of writing, the only FDA-approved drug containing cannabidiol is Epidiolex. This brand is used in treating intractable epilepsy. Researchers are still working on proving the therapeutic effects of CBD, but for the most part, this substance is still largely unregulated as medicine or supplement.

About CBD

Cannabidiol is an extract from Cannabis sativa L., the plant species that produce both the hemp and marijuana variety. The controversy stems from the psychoactive property of marijuana, which gives users the high it is well-known for.

However, CBD is naturally derived and does not cause the addictive high. It comes in many preparations, typically oils, but it can also be found as pills, lotions, edibles like gummies, cosmetics, and other skincare products.

It has only been a few months since CBD extracted from hemp has been legalized in the US. CBD oils and other preparations are lawful to be sold, distributed and used according to federal law as long as it does not contain more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

THC is the active component found in cannabis that is responsible for the psychotropic effects in the extract.

Companies that received the FTC’s warnings are prompted to review their product’s claims and ensure that scientific evidence is presented properly.

If the companies cannot comply with the FTC act, they will be facing legal action from the agency. They are given fifteen (15) days to reply to the said warnings. They are also expected to present the actions they are bound to undertake to meet the FTC’s concern.

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