California Bill to Legalize Hemp Extracts in Food and Drinks

Energy protein balls with hemp seeds

California lawmakers are faced again with the long-deliberated question of whether to allow hemp extracts in food and beverages in the state.

But the measure doesn’t come without a setback for hemp industry as the measure would also ban smokable flower. In addition to allowing CBD in food and beverages, the bill would also establish testing requirements for safety and ensure products don’t have more than 0.3 percent THC.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) observes nearly any product with CBD as federally illegal. Since the agency has not yet released a position on smokable hemp, it remains federally legal.

The AB45 Bill

Now, as California’s 2021-2022 session gets going, assembly member Aguiar-Curry has introduced AB 45, identical to last year’s AB 228, but with a more explicit reference to pet food.

  • The bill would permit dietary supplement, food, beverage, cosmetic, or pet food to include industrial hemp or cannabinoids, extracts, or derivatives from industrial hemp.
  • This bill would create an authorization process for hemp manufacturers who produce specified products that include industrial hemp or who produce raw hemp extract, as defined by AB45, including requirements for testing and labeling on products.
  • The bill would require the Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Department of Public Health, in consultation with the Bureau of Cannabis Control, if necessary, 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.
  • The bill would also direct revenue from a $250 fee imposed on hemp manufacturers toward an Industrial Hemp Research Program at the University of California.
  • The bill would prohibit a manufacturer, distributor, or seller of an industrial hemp product from including on the label, or publishing or distributing in advertising or marketing, a health-related statement, as defined by AB45 — that is untrue or that tends to create a deceptive impression as to the effects on health of consuming products containing industrial hemp.

Major Move or Setback for the Hemp Industry

A similar effort for the bill failed at the last session. But the uncertainty remains on whether to allow CBD in foods as the new legislative session ramps up.

The bill is not going to appease to all. Banning smokable hemp flower could hurt small farms and wholesale suppliers that have come to rely on it for revenue — while others argue the bill is a major move forward for the industry.

What side are you on? Do you think the bill is a major move or a setback for the hemp industry?

“It’s one of the worst horse trades I’ve ever seen,” stated Chris Boucher, CEO of California-based Farmtiva.

Supporters of the legislation bill argue the forthcoming debate of regulating consumable hemp products is an economic driver and it will protect consumers.

“Regulating hemp manufacturing will lead to a mainstreaming of hemp products in California creating increased demand for hemp materials and raise farming prospects,” stated Patrick Goggin, Chief Lawyer for the California Hemp Council. “Additionally, regulations will bolster consumer safety and confidence in the quality of consumable hemp products.”

Tell us your thoughts and what you think of bill AB45.

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