Click here for Dylan’s previous “State Of Hemp In The Nation” blog from December 2018.
The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill was certainly exciting. And, as aforementioned, the future for hemp is bright.
To recap the overall success that was 2018, hemp was finally alleviated from the Controlled Substances Act and assumed its rightful status as an agricultural commodity to be regulated by the USDA. One might recall, however, that while it has been removed from the purview of the DEA as an arguably illicit substance, hemp-derived cannabinoids remain unauthorized dietary ingredients per the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act. The Farm Bill didn’t wave a magic wand and suddenly render hemp-derived cannabinoids free and clear to add to cosmetics and foods. The FDA must take the appropriate measures to formulize federal classification of once-illicit substances.
Although hemp-derived CBD or full-spectrum hemp extract does not currently have federal authorization as dietary ingredients, the industry is optimistic the FDA will eventually come around. Days after the Farm Bill’s passage, the Commissioner of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, came forward with an official statement admitting the “substantial public interest in traditional market hemp-derived cannabinoid products] and the clear interest of Congress in fostering the development of appropriate hemp products.” Expanding on this, Gottlieb updated the industry with the good news that the “[FDA] intends to hold a public meeting in the near future for stakeholders to share their experiences and challenges with these products, including information and views related to the safety of such products.”
Gottlieb’s statement reinforced that hemp-derived cannabinoid products did not magically get a new classification as an approved dietary ingredient with the new Agricultural Improvement Act. It’s also indicative of the FDA’s interest in resolving hemp-derived cannabinoid products in the traditional marketplace. Until we hear again from Gottlieb and the FDA as to when they plan on holding a hearing regarding hemp-derived cannabinoid products, we remain optimistic that hopefully, it is only a matter of time CBD products are approved as dietary ingredients and regulated as such.
In other news, AOAC International, the premier international association whose mission is to “advance food safety, food integrity, and public health, by bringing together members, organizations, and experts dedicated to developing and validating standards, methods and technologies of global relevance,” officially announced their new endeavor, the Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP). With the advent of cannabis legality via hemp, the ball has started rolling in regards to harmonization of lab testing and analytical standards. This is an important issue as, until now, analytics of hemp and hemp products have solely been subject to the whims of individual state regulation, creating disparity within the industry as to what is exactly tested for, which methods are used, and to what tolerance levels. Harmonization of the industry is crucial moving forward and this is a step in the right direction. By the end of January, we should hear from the AOAC as they organize their first advisory panels.
As we move forward in 2019, it is important to remember that hemp-derived products like those offered by Lazarus Naturals will continue to be made available. Although the FDA statement seems worrisome, it is actually just a reiteration of what was already known. The main differences between the pre-2018 Farm Bill era and now are that we have full legality of hemp at the federal level and the FDA has officially announced they are willing to work with stakeholders to make an educated decision on how to classify hemp-derived cannabinoid products moving forward. Before the 2018 Farm Bill passage, everyone operated under the pretense that they were schedule I substances.
Make sure to remain vigilant in the greater effort to legislate hemp and hemp products accordingly. Those in government depend on the input of their constituency to operate effectively as elected officials. If the people respond in favor of CBD and the market continues to thrive in a safe and quality manner, there is a greater chance hemp-based cannabinoid products will be regulated favorably across the nation. Hopefully, the trend of the world following America’s lead will then continue and we will see international acceptance before long. Until then, write to your representatives.