Substantial Growth in the Industry
It all began with the passing of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 and the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill, in April and December respectively. Several restrictions on industrial hemp and industrial hemp-derived products were withdrawn including the use, production, cultivation, export, import, and transportation within the country, insurance, banking and research.
Introduced in House (04/12/2018)
Hemp Farming Act of 2018
This bill legalizes industrial hemp that has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana) concentration of no more than 0.3% by removing it from schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. States and Indian tribes may regulate the production of hemp by submitting a plan to the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The bill also makes hemp producers eligible for the federal crop insurance program and certain USDA research grants.
The foreseeable increase in demand and production of industrial hemp skyrocketed and the market for CBD, an oil-based product that has a vast amount of uses, went through the roof as sales spiralled amounting to $170 million in 2016, according to the Brightfield Group, and is expected to hit the grand billion-dollar mark over a 5-year period at a compound annual growth rate of 55%.
The FDA’s Role in the Industry
Although removed as an illegal substance under federal law, the FDA still dominates the regulation of cannabis production under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and Section 351 of the Public Health Service Act. This means that regardless if any cannabis product on the market, whether hemp-derived or not, that claims its primary aim is to provide health and medicinal benefits, must be approved by the agency beforehand. Anything contrary to this is considered illegal, that is, the unlawful selling of unauthorized products, which is one of the agency’s major concerns.
Additionally, it was confirmed that adding CBD to food products and dietary supplements is actually illegal, whether the CBD is hemp-derived or not, since it is filed as an active ingredient in FDA-approved drugs, therefore is illegal under the FD&C Act.
An incident linked to the industry involving the FDA occurred wtih three businesses that were advertising false claims of their products. They were subsequently threatened with product seizures, injunctions and sales proceeds reimbursement. This entire situation among the businesses highlighted the potential risks faced by industrial hemp and CBD companies.
The ongoing awareness of the benefits of hemp and hemp-derived products will, as one would expect, increase their demand expanding the market and will likely project the industry forward in the years to come. There will be an increase in funding for research and development that will also contribute to alleviating, or even completely eliminating, the problems with the suitable legislation and regulation laws.
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