California Legislature to Revisit Bill Legalizing CBD in Drinks and Food

Although it’s only been around for a short while, the U.S. CBD sector has had quite an eventful life. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical that’s produced by hemp. It’s one of over 100 unique chemicals produced by the plants, and they have a variety of medicinal properties that have held the world in thrall. CBD is currently the one we know most about, as little as it may seem.

Also called hemp oil extract, CBD quickly amassed a large following after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp and its extracts. With a market worth millions, experts estimate the industry will hit $24 billion by 2024.

However, regulatory authorities have called into question the myriad of CBD products on the shelves. According to the FDA, it is illegal to sell CBD-infused foods and beverages. Still, there are thousands of such products on the market, and to keep consumers safe from unscrupulous sellers, states have been forced to regulate CBD within their borders.

In California, hemp entrepreneurs are holding out hope that the state will pass long-awaited legislation that will legalize hemp-derived CBD as an ingredient in food, beverages, and cosmetics. The bill would have reversed a 2018 stipulation by the state’s health department that cannabidiol can’t be added to food.

Although hemp producers in the state thought the governor would sign the bill into law, it fizzled out at the end of the year.

However, according to two board members of the California Hemp Council, Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, and Patrick Goggin, a San Francisco-based cannabis lawyer with Hoban Law Group, a coalition of hemp advocates, farmers, and local governments worked through the legislative off session to submit amendments to improve the bill’s chances of being passed.

“It was unceremoniously shelved at the end of last season in large part due to the intent to allow for hemp products to go into marijuana retail. There wasn’t a meeting of minds between the hemp industry and the marijuana industry at the time in order to get passage,” says Goggin.

According to a letter sent by the state’s hemp coalition to Governor Newsom, the proposed amendments address concerns from the state health department about the mixing of hemp and marijuana raw products within the operations of licensed producers and call for testing parity between hemp and marijuana products.

Goggin says the new version of the bill calls for hemp to be tested in the same way as marijuana, thus bringing the same confidence in the level of testing for contaminants, such as heavy metals and pesticides.

“It will address the most important issue, which is consumer safety, by having the products come under the regulation of the California Department of Public Health.”

Analysts believe that sector players like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) will be hoping that California passes CBD regulations so that the local industry can thrive without a cloud of regulatory uncertainty hovering over it.

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