Is California going to war against hemp and CBD?

Aug 25, 2020

The dire news keeps piling on for the nascent hemp-derived cannabidiol industry following last week’s announcement by the Drug Enforcement Agency of new interim rules that could put the entire CBD market in jeopardy. As The PotNetwork reported on Monday, the DEA overplayed its hand last week, in an attempt to make byproducts of hemp-derived CBD illegal. The ruling, which was disguised as little more than guidance following the law set out by 2018’s Farm Bill, has already caused an uproar among many industry players as new and popular products like Delta-8 THC, which can be derived from hemp and cannabis, was deemed illegal by the DEA.

It turns out that federal authorities aren’t the only ones causing trouble, as the outlet Let’s Talk Hemp reported last week that California pols are attempting to stifle the CBD market as well. According to a report released by the cannabis-centric rag, the California Governor’s office is testing the waters with language that would ban interstate commerce, as well as the sale of tinctures, dietary supplements, ingestible products, and topicals to anyone under the age of 21.

Again, CBD is a non-psychotropic product. No one can become high from using these products, which means these age designations are arbitrary at best.

Furthermore, industry insiders are concerned, as California legislators are floating broad ideas like over-the-top fees for both manufacturers and retailers of CBD, regulatory authority to curb serving sizes, and the ridiculous notion of treating CBD products like alcohol, marijuana or tobacco. Once again, hemp-derived CBD products are not psychoactive in any way. This appears to be posturing from politicians more than anything else.

Throw in that this is all being done against an August 31 deadline — that’s when the legislature goes into recess — and you have a perfect storm ready to destroy the West Coast CBD industry.

“There are three parties involved – the governor and his administration, including the California Department of Public Health, the state legislature, and the hemp industry,” said Jonathan Miller, an attorney with Frost Todd Brown in Lexington, KY to Let’s Talk Hemp. He is director of their hemp practice and the general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. “For two years, the Department of Public Health has said it is illegal to sell CBD as a dietary supplement or food additive, but they haven’t really enforced it across the board. However, we have seen enforcement actions against stores on a county level.” 

He continued: “We would like to see legislation passed that explicitly says cannabinoids can be sold. We are now negotiating with the governor’s office and are optimistic we can get a good bill passed, but we are running out of time. In some of the drafts, we’ve seen some things that we thought were poison pills. We either reach agreement over the weekend or we are going to fight. No bill is better than a bad bill.”

One anonymous source to Let’s Talk Hemp that if this language passed into law, it would bode poorly for cannabidiol manufacturers in California.

“It would give California the most restrictive law in the country,” the anonymous source told Let’s Talk Hemp. “It’s also a matter of existing jobs in hemp and agriculture. Hopefully the administration and legislature will be mindful that some businesses will leave the state, and some will go bankrupt. And consumers may not understand that their access to hemp and CBD products could be cut off.”

Many in the industry are now supporting a bill being pushed by California Assembly Members Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Buffy Wicks. Their bill seeks to advance the hemp industry in the state.

“These days it seems everyone is reaping the benefits of CBD – except the State of California. Why? Because hemp-derived CBD isn’t legal here,” said California Assembly Member Buffy Wicks in a Tweet. “That’s why I’ve joined Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry to fix this, so our farmers, retailers, consumers – and state coffers – can benefit.”

According to Let’s Talk Hemp, Attorney Jonathan Miller encourages anyone who wants to fight this language to go to www.hempsupporter.com, which is hosted by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable.

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