Over the past week, there have been several highly-publicized incidents in which retail store owners have been accused of selling marijuana-laced products, some of which had been allegedly targeted to children. The US Hemp Roundtable appreciates the challenges our law enforcement faces in combatting illegal drugs. However, in many of these instances, blanket statements were made that not only are legally inaccurate, but could pose a chill on an exciting new economic opportunity for American farmers and small businesses. Furthermore, there is the real potential that legal and safe hemp products were improperly seized and classified incorrectly as controlled substances. The issue concerns “CBD,” known formally as cannabidiol. CBD is an ingredient that can be extracted from a marijuana plant or from industrial hemp. The difference between the two plants is simple, but also very significant. A marijuana product containing CBD may have a meaningful concentration of THC, the compound that gets people high. Conversely, if a product is derived from industrial hemp, it is, by definition, non-psychoactive. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC, often far less. Hemp-derived CBD is not marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD is not medical marijuana. Indeed, hemp-derived CBD is viewed by the international community as a safe, effective and non-addictive natural supplement. Just this past November, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence issued a report opining that naturally occurring CBD is safe and well-tolerated in humans (and animals), and is not linked with any negative public health outcomes. Furthermore, the WHO concluded that CBD does not induce physical dependence and is not associated with abuse potential: “To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems with the use of pure CBD.” Federal law also provides significant protections for hemp-derived CBD. The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill created a pilot program regime that allows states to regulate and permit commerce in hemp and hemp products. The 2016 Omnibus Law prohibits federal agencies from interfering with hemp pilot programs. It also specifically prohibits federal dollars from being spent that hinder the interstate sale or transport of hemp products. More details on the legal status of CBD are available at this link.
As a durable crop that grows in a variety of climates and soil types, hemp opens up bright new economic opportunities for American agriculture. From drafts of our founding documents to the sustainable paneling of 21st century cars, hemp’s versatility and strength have made it the fabric of the American imagination. Today, hemp is used in clothing, biofuels, plastics, personal care, feed and food. Economic experts predict a multi- billion-dollar U.S. hemp industry by 2020. We urge law enforcement to return any legitimate and lawful hemp-derived products to their store of origin. And as they bravely operate on the front lines of efforts to protect our communities, we ask them to be more circumspect in distinguishing safe and legal hemp products from the illegal drugs that merit their scrutiny. We encourage anyone with questions – law enforcement, policymakers, store owners, interested citizens – to contact our legal counsel, Jonathan Miller, of Frost Brown Todd, at (859) 244-3218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.