At this week’s National Industrial Hemp Council’s 2019 Hemp Business Summit, FDA Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller gave insight into the FDA’s current stance on CBD.
Schiller reiterated that the FDA retains regulatory authority over hemp-derived products, and that companies are not permitted to introduce CBD into the food supply — until and unless the FDA develops alternative rules for the substance.
However, he also said that the FDA is excited about the possible medical benefits of CBD, and wants to gather as much information as possible to ascertain the safety and possible risks of consuming it:
We want to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to support informed and efficient decision making. If there are data or studies that are relevant to the safety of particular uses of CBD, we want to see them. And if there are gaps in our knowledge, we want to understand how big those gaps are and what can be done — by us and by others — to start filling them.
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Last week we reported that Columbus, Ohio’s Attorney’s Office had dropped pending misdemeanor marijuana cases. This was due to a lack of testing equipment capable of differentiating between hemp and marijuana.
This week, the state attorney general’s office is advising police statewide to temporarily suspend marijuana testing (and, hence, drug arrests), halting indictments until adequate testing procedures can be established.
It was announced on Wednesday that new testing equipment has been purchased by the state, and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost hopes that Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) laboratories will be able to test marijuana evidence by early 2020.
It’s impossible to differentiate hemp from marijuana by sight or smell and, so far, many states are behind in acquiring equipment that can test for THC levels (the only thing that differentiates the two kinds of cannabis).
Law enforcement in the state of Georgia is facing similar issues with differentiating between hemp and marijuana in the wake of hemp legalization. Cobb County is the latest county in Georgia to suspend enforcement of misdemeanor marijuana violations.
In a statement, Cobb Police Chief Tim Cox explained, “After discussions with prosecutors, it appears that arresting someone for misdemeanor marijuana possession is not recommended. As a result, effective immediately, any misdemeanor amounts of marijuana that an officer encounters will be confiscated and sent to the Evidence Unit to be destroyed.”
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Hailstorms that hit central Oregon on August 9th have reportedly caused over $25 million in damage to the state’s hemp industry. Early estimates coming out this week cited over 500 acres of hemp that was either damaged or destroyed.
Deschutes County Farm Bureau President Matt Cyrus says that it’s still too early to know how much of the crop can be salvaged: “We still don’t know how resilient this plant is and what the overall impacts are going to be when it’s all said and done.”
This week, a man in Texas’ Guadalupe County was arrested and put in jail for possessing a CBD vape pen.
When Taylor Deshotel was pulled over for a traffic violation, he was asked by the law enforcement officer if there was anything in the car he should be aware of. Deshotel handed over a THC-free CBD vape pen, assuming that it was legal and would not create a problem for him.
Instead, he was arrested on a controlled substance charge, an action that has led to the loss of his job. “For me to be going through a controlled substance charge over something that is legal when they sell it everywhere…that doesn’t make any sense,” Deshotel said.
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Hempseeds and hemp biomass are on the list of products that may soon be hit by Chinese tariffs on American agriculture products. Economists aren’t worried though.
Though farmers of other agricultural products (including row-crops like soybeans) will be hit hard by the trade war, the hemp industry should be mostly unaffected.
“There is no cannabinoid market in China, so the hemp farmers and businesses serving the cannabinoid market (in the US) have no business export to China,” said Brian Cheng, general partner at The Arcview Group in San Francisco.
On the other hand, those in the market for hemp processing equipment could take a hit from rising prices.
In New York state the hemp industry is booming, but hemp related businesses are having a hard time securing adequate banking services to support their businesses.
Companies like New York Hemp Oil in Cortland, NY faced rejection by several banks before being accepted by a credit union. But finding a payroll companies and credit card processor has also been a challenge.
And many hemp businesses are facing limited ability to grow, due to the unwillingness of banks to invest in their business. “Not having access to capital means we can’t scale our processing business as fast as we would like,” says owner Allan Gandelman.