The bill, designated as SB-235, was introduced in the California Senate on Jan. 19 by Sen. Ben Allen. The bill is the counterpart of an Assembly bill (AB 45) that was introduced by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.
In absence of federal rules regarding the hemp/CBD trade, the bill would:
- Require manufacturers of dietary supplements or industrial hemp to demonstrate that all parts of the plant were sourced from a state or country with an established and approved industrial hemp program.
- Prohibit manufacturers and distributors from making false label claims and making health-related statements.
- Require the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Department of Public Health, in consultation with the Bureau of Cannabis Control to develop a process to share license, registration, cultivar, and enforcement information to facilitate compliance and enforcement against unlicensed industrial hemp product and raw extract manufacturers and retailers.
NPA: CA bill is good, federal legislation would be better
Kyle Turk, NPA director of government affairs, testified on the bill in a Senate Health Committee hearing yesterday in Sacramento. Turk said NPA is generally in favor of the bill’s provisions.
Turk’s testimony reiterated the history of the federal CBD regulation question, noting that at the moment the US Food and Drug Administration says CBD does not qualify as a legal dietary ingredient because of its prior investigation as a drug.
But Turk noted that despite that impediment the national market for CBD products has exploded. He cited data from a 2017 New Frontier Data report that indicated that the US CBD industry grew by 40% in 2017, reaching $367 million in annual sales. NPA believes that more than 3,000 CBD products are now being sold on the open market. IN a statement announcing Turk’s testimony, NPA noted that California is the single biggest market for CBD products, accounting for more than $730 million in sales in 2019.
Turk said NPA generally supports the bill’s provisions, but believes an overarching federal approach is best for consumers and for industry.
“NPA supports the ability for states to make determinations based upon facts and findings presented before them. NPA supports legislation like Senate Bill 235, which establishes appropriate guardrails for CBD products,” he testified.
“Clear federal guidelines from the nation’s public health agency award compliant companies with the regulatory clarity they deserve when operating in interstate commerce. While we believe the FDA's regulatory standards are the best way to move forward with this promising new product while protecting consumers, we support the criteria outlined in this legislation,” the testimony concluded.
Hemp group supports bill
The US Hemp Roundtable, an industry group, also supported the legislation.
“We strongly support AB 45 and SB 235, and have been leading a grassroots campaign to secure its passage. We are also working behind the scenes to make the bill even stronger, addressing concerns such as the ban on hemp craft flower which has been raised by several local farmers,” said Jonathan Miller, the organization’s general counsel and an attorney with the Kentucky law firm Frost Brown Todd.
Senate bill would cut short possible regressive language
Steve Hoffman, principal in the firm Compass Natural Marketing, has been involved in the California hemp market for several years, having worked on some of the early ballot initiatives. He has also covered the state in his newsletter Let’s Talk Hemp newsletter.
From his point of view, Allen’s and Aguiar-Curry’s bills move the state in the right direction. The fear last year was that regressive language coming from Gov. Gavin Newsome’s office might have criminalized certain aspects of the trade.
“We were wondering at one time if California might be on the brink of passing some of the most regressive CBD regulations in the country. I’m heartened that this new California Senate bill moves the state in the right direction. But what we really need is federal regulation that allows CBD and hemp products to be sold as dietary supplements and functional foods,” Hoffman said.
Bill would mandate federal regulation
Miller said the US Hemp Roundtable agrees with NPA and Hoffman that federal legislation is the way to go. A bill before the US Congress, HR 841, would do just that.
“The top priority of the Roundtable is passage of HR 841 which would establish a legal pathway for the sale of CBD as a dietary supplement,” Miller said.
Some stakeholders are cautious about forcing FDA’s hand as the Agency continues to gather safety information on hemp/CBD products. That process shouldn’t be rushed, said the Center for Science in Public Interest. In a statement issued yesterday about HR 841 the group had this to say:
“We strongly oppose any bill to force the FDA to allow cannabidiol (CBD) and ‘any other ingredient derived from hemp’ to be used in dietary supplements as a dietary ingredient within set period of time from enactment. Such a measure would cut short the FDA’s current efforts, create an unsafe CBD market, and irreparably politicize the FDA’s scientific oversight of the food and drug supply.”