Colorado designates hemp a food ingredient to prevent drug crackdown

Colorado became the first state to designate hemp as a food product, a change designed to safeguard manufacturers that add hemp extracts to foods and cosmetics.

The new law states that foods won’t be considered “adulterated” if they contain industrial hemp. It also states that federal drug authorities may not interfere with the sale of nonpharmaceutical cannabis extracts.

The “hemp foods” measure comes from hemp activists looking for safeguards as federal authorities show more interest in regulating all cannabis forms as a drug.

Later this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a decision on CBD epilepsy medicine Epidiolex.

The medicine would be the first nonsynthetic cannabis medicine to win FDA approval, which would likely trigger the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reconsider cannabis’ status as a drug with no medicinal use.

The looming Epidiolex decision has raised concerns among other hemp producers that the FDA could start preventing manufacturers from adding other formulations of CBD to foods and cosmetics.

It’s doubtful a Colorado law would forestall federal drug enforcement against CBD in foods made in the state. But advocates hope similar measures spread to other hemp states to send a message to federal drug authorities that CBD tinctures should be regulated like foods, not medicines.