WASHINGTON — The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill may have legalized hemp production, but a number of state and local governments have cracked down on CBD sales, citing a lack of oversight or clarity from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here are four key examples of state and local authorities that have taken action against CBD sales in early 2019 …
In February, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services ruled that CBD is an unapproved food additive, citing the FDA. This move prompted other state authorities to alert retailers and restaurateurs that they must remove CBD-containing foods and supplements from store shelves. Instead, consumers will be allowed to purchase CBD edibles and supplements only from the state’s recreational marijuana dispensaries, although traditional retailers are still allowed to carry CBD products meant to be smoked, vaped or applied topically.
“We just had the carpet pulled out from under us,” Dawson Julia, the owner of East Coast CBDs in Unity, told the Portland Press Herald. “Hemp just got legalized nationally and now Maine wants to do a 180 and make it illegal here, when we’ve been doing it with their blessing for two years now?”
The New York City Department of Health banned CBD-infused food and beverages in January. Thus far, the Department of Health has only inspected retail establishments and asked them not to use CBD products. Starting in July, restaurants and retailers will be required to return or throw out CBD-infused products, and in October, the health department will begin issuing citations to any establishment found offering food or beverages containing CBD.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has advised that it is unlawful to add cannabidiol (CBD) to food or drink,” a New York City Department of Health spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC. “We are currently informing businesses in New York City that may sell food and drink about this regulation and have implemented an educational period to help them achieve compliance.”
Ohio’s new medical-marijuana law strictly prohibits the sale of any CBD outside of Ohio’s 56 licensed medical-marijuana dispensaries, and only consumers cleared to purchase medical marijuana will be able to purchase CBD. Ohio’s medical-marijuana regulators claim they have authority over CBD sales and production because state law doesn't distinguish hemp from other cannabis plants.
As of early February, the Ohio Department of Agriculture was working with local health departments and police agencies across the state to "embargo" products containing CBD, according to a statement from the Cincinnati Health Department to The Cincinnati Enquirer. That embargo includes identifying, itemizing and even removing CBD products from retail locations.
Meanwhile, a new bill in the state senate would create an industrial hemp program under the Ohio Department of Agriculture, decriminalizing both hemp production and CBD oil possession in the state.
Prosecutors in Tarrant County in west Texas said individuals found in possession of CBD products with any trace amounts of THC could face felony drug charges.
“It's illegal,” Larry Moore, criminal division chief for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, told NBC Dallas Fort Worth in February. “And until the legislature changes that, it's going to continue to be illegal.”
The Texas Department of Agriculture website says the Texas Legislature will likely do just that during its current session, with numerous hemp-related bills having been prefiled. The site predicts regulators will remove hemp as a controlled substance from the Texas Penal Code and authorize a state agency to operate the hemp program (likely the Department of Agriculture). Once authorized by the legislature, the Texas Department of Agriculture will establish rules regarding licensing, production, testing, seed certification and other oversight.