Hemp in California: Proposed CBD legislation put on hold until 2020

(Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series on California’s hemp industry. To read the previous installment, click here.)

(This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Cecilia Aguiar-Curry’s name.)

California’s long-awaited legislation to legalize hemp-derived CBD in foods, beverages and cosmetics has been put on hold, rendering it dead on arrival for this legislative session.

The Senate Appropriations Committee put the bill in “Suspense,” a legislative maneuver that means the measure was set aside. Senators could take it up later, but the measure is likely on hold until at least 2020.

The bill stipulates that “a food, beverage or cosmetic is not adulterated by the inclusion of industrial hemp,” including extracts such as CBD.

The measure had been unanimously supported in a bipartisan, emergency push through the state Legislature and was widely expected to be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

It would have reversed a 2018 stipulation from California’s health department that hemp-derived CBD can’t be added to foods.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, said after the bill stalled that enforcement actions by the California health agency and local regulators are limiting residents’ access to the wellness benefits of hemp-derived products and also putting the agricultural industry and ancillary hemp and CBD businesses at a disadvantage.

“This position by the California Department of Public Health has put our state in an Alice-in-Wonderland world, where adult consumers can walk into a licensed marijuana dispensary and purchase all manner of recreational cannabis products, but they cannot legally purchase nonpsychoactive hemp products that they believe can bring them calm or reduce their pain,” Aguiar-Curry said in a statement.

“Without (the bill), we do not have any California standards or consumer-protection measures in place to regulate this market. This leaves our state at a competitive disadvantage, and our consumers with limited options.”

National confusion

While California was looking to lead the discussion on establishing a framework for legalizing hemp-derived CBD as an ingredient, the delay is not surprising given California’s history and ongoing federal discussion on CBD, according to Michael Bronstein, co-founder of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH).

“As the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) is formulating policy on CBD, they’re taking a look at some of the patchwork legislation that’s been put in place at the state level and also seeing how states are going to react and making decisions about what they’re seeing in these markets,” Bronstein told Hemp Industry Daily.

“And from the state-level perspective, people are looking for clarity from the federal government as they bring their plans in front of the federal government. So a lot of agencies are having to make their own decisions with what little guidance they have right now.”

Try for 2020

Aguiar-Curry said the governor tasked her to work with his staff this fall to resolve concerns regarding food safety related to CBD and rules associated with selling products in marijuana dispensaries.

“I am confident that we will have a bill ready for the governor to sign at the beginning of next year, so that our California hemp farmers and producers of hemp-CBD can take advantage of this new multibillion-dollar opportunity,” Aguiar-Curry said.

Laura Drotleff can be reached at [email protected]

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2 comments on “Hemp in California: Proposed CBD legislation put on hold until 2020
  1. Hempie Hempenstein on

    I was very surprised to see this bill be held under submission given the wide spread support it has generated. In hindsight, do we think California is merely delaying until the official FDA guidelines are announced and implemented? It would almost seem like the legislators are worried about having the cart before the horse so to speak as the upcoming FDA guidelines could contravene AB 228’s provisions. I am just trying to make sense of this puzzling decision and would welcome any additional commentary or opinions.

    Best,

    Hempie Hempenstein

    Reply
  2. Charlie on

    Seems to me that California Regulators want to see which hemp products the Federal Regulators will allow and which they will not allow. Then California Regulators can carefully craft rules around the areas they don’t like and leave what they like untouched.
    I would have liked to see California writing their own rules NOW. The Federal Regulators will likely over-regulate any product containing CBD, to please Big Corporations that have patented CBD-containing drugs. The Federal Regulators DO NOT care about the small hemp products business owner.
    The Federal Regulators will likely implement a new PROHIBITION on smokable hemp flower. Hopefully California will override a lot of the Federal hemp CBD rules and allow the hemp products industry to flourish and contribute to the economy of the State.

    Reply

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