Legislative solutions to CBD regulations show promise in Maine

Legislative solutions to CBD regulations show promise in Maine

The man who knows perhaps most about CBD regulation in the U.S., outgoing Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, isn’t very optimistic about his agency’s ability to formulate solid and well-rounded rules for the substance quickly.

He advised last month that the best way to find a way into food and drink products for the non-psychoactive hemp extract may be to turn to legislatures instead of the FDA, where the issue could stagnate for years.

Now, the state of Maine has done just that. Late last month, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a bill legalizing the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, in food and drink products. [1]

According to the Press Herald, Maine’s decision to pass the law came almost directly after health inspectors in the state overreached by pulling products from shelves and shutting down some businesses offering CBD in food and drink. [1]

The health inspectors’ office has since apologized for the overreaches involved in the early reaction to CBD marketing in Maine after the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized hemp for agricultural production.

Tens of thousands of dollars from inventories and lost sales were taken during these reactions, which unsurprisingly sent the Maine State Legislature into a frenzy looking for solutions.

Maine Representative Craig Hickman, D - Winthrop, was the author of the bill signed into law on March 27. [1]

From the Press Herald:

“We heard from farmers, processors, retailers, health care practitioners and people who have found relief in the medicinal qualities of the nutrient dense whole food that is the hemp plant,” said Hickman, himself an organic farmer. “They needed us to act.” [1]

Some of the reaction to the crackdown in Maine came inevitably because recreational and medical marijuana use in that state has been legal since a vote in 2016.

There are 2,400 licensed dealers of marijuana in Maine currently, according to Press Herald reporting. [1]

Some of those who are slightly more hesitant toward the new law don’t like the seemingly arbitrary distinction it draws between hemp and other plants. They argue that rendering a different regulatory status for hemp in foods is as absurd as placing a legal category for chamomile in tea, according to the Press Herald. [1]

The advances in Maine, like a constellation of changes across states and municipalities in the U.S., are promising but not conclusive to federal level changes.

As industry groups and consumer advocates continue to press legislators in Congress for the right to purchase and deal in CBD products as they wish, federal solutions still lie on the horizon.

Still, the example of those in Maine is one the entire country can follow as the fight for CBD and hemp rights continues.


[1] https://www.pressherald.com/2019/03/27/mills-signs-bill-allowing-sale-of-cbd-items/