A new Virginia law now recognizes hemp extracts as food, allowing more flexibility in the amount of THC contained in food products. Governor Ralph Northam recently signed a bill that would define hemp extract as a legal food product and help fund the promotion of industrial hemp production in the state. In turn, it is hoped that the recently passed bill will open up the floodgates for other states—and the federal government—to follow suit.
Proponents of the new bill are optimistic that it will validate the cannabidiol (CBD) industry and provide some much-needed regulation to it. As of late, there are no testing or labeling requirements, leaving it up to the manufacturers themselves to provide consumers with full transparency of what’s in their products. Consumers are also encouraged to do their due diligence when choosing CBD products to ensure they know exactly what they’re buying.
But Senate Bill 918 can help to overcome these shortcomings by giving the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services the power to regulate specific standards for hemp extracts, such as testing and labeling products.
Over recent years, CBD has exploded on the market and is especially popular in states where both medical and recreational cannabis are legal. But while many edible CBD products are available, they’re not technically considered legal on a federal level. Virginia’s move may help nudge lawmakers to have CBD and hemp recognized as legal food substances under federal law.
The FDA has yet to approve marketing for cannabis-derived products, including hemp-based CBD. That said, the agency recently revisited its stance on how to devise a legal market for CBD products – including edibles and supplements – while ensuring consumer safety. Right now, the FDA is revisiting CBD‘s potential regulation and is assessing appropriate doses and various forms of the cannabinoid to identify any potential threats to human health. But so far, the jury is still out on when the administration will legalize the marketing of CBD for oral consumption.
While many states have been jumping on the cannabis legalization bandwagon one by one, Virginia is blazing a trail in recognizing hemp as food. History suggests that such a move will encourage other states to do the same.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, hemp has been separated from the definition of marijuana and removed from the Controlled Substances Act. But it is still illegal under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to add CBD or hemp extracts to food or advertise them as dietary supplements. Hopefully, the new Virginia law will initiate a revisiting of these rules and lead to a strong future in hemp production and use.
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