A recent decision by California state legislators may have far-reaching implications on the burgeoning cannabidiol (“CBD”) market and a negative effect on patients taking the cannabinoid for health reasons. The public health department's Food and Drug Branch (“FDB”) issued a memo last month banning CBD oil derived from industrial hemp, arguing that only CBD extracted from cannabis falls under their jurisdiction. The memo makes clear that the public health department’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch (MCSB) “regulates medicinal and adult-use manufactured cannabis products.”
This memo argues that while California is willing to defy the federal government when it comes to the manufacturing and sale of adult-use cannabis products, it's not going to challenge their stance on industrial hemp. “Until the FDA rules that industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products can be used as a food or California makes a determination that they are safe to use for human and animal consumption, CBD products are not an approved food, food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement,” the memo states.
The move will surely add to the already mounting confusion on the legality of CBD products in addition to the difference between psychoactive cannabis and hemp. While the word cannabis is indicative of the genus of plants, the federal government is more interested in the concentrations of cannabinoids – mainly THC, which is known for the “high” it produces when consumed. Industrial hemp is defined as cannabis with 0.3 percent THC or less; cannabis contains larger concentrations and is what you would find in a dispensary.
“This is devastating for small businesses in California that rely on hemp-derived CBD,” said Dana Cisneros, a fellow cannabis industry attorney, in an interview with Hemp Industry Daily. “This is also devastating for patients that cannot afford to purchase cannabis-derived CBD products sold in Bureau of Cannabis Control-licensed retail establishments.”
Advocates for hemp-derived CBD argue that the ban will make it more expensive to obtain the cannabinoid, as producers will need to cultivate specific high-CBD strains in order to keep up with demand. Hemp is often easier and cheaper to grow and offers certain other chemical compounds, such as terpenes, that may have potential medicinal value.
David Kani is a California based trial lawyer, author, and social commentator. Connect with David at [hidden email] or to book David to speak at your event, please contact [hidden email].