California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law October 6 legalizing the sale of a wide array of hemp-based products. These include food, drinks and supplements containing CBD and other nonintoxicating cannabinoids. But not delta-8 THC.
The new law explicitly excludes THC isolates and chemically-synthesized cannabinoids from its definition of industrial hemp. Less clear is whether that matters to Californians, who’ve had legal access to psychoactive strains of cannabis for recreational use since 2016.
The bill’s author, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, noted that many in the state do seek support from nonintoxicating cannabinoids precisely because they have no mind-altering effects.
“Hemp differs from marijuana, and Californians for years have sought hemp-derived CBD for relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions,” Aguiar-Curry tweeted. “AB 45 will give workability for growers and CBD producers while putting in place stringent regulation to ensure the hemp CBD products Californians consume is clearly labeled and nonintoxicating.”
The new law requires businesses making hemp products to register with the State Department of Public Health, and show that their source comes from an established industrial hemp program.
Law Establishes Standards for Testing and Labeling
The law also creates standards for testing and labeling requirements, and sets rules for retail sale of hemp-derived goods made outside the state.
The California Department of Public Health has been tasked with developing specific regulations to put the legislation into action. AB 45 gives the agency some authoritative power, such as including or excluding “comparable” cannabinoids from the definition of THC based whether they’re intoxicating.
The signed legislation also makes way for cannabinoid-infused cosmetics and pet food, and sets the wheels in motion for the legal sale of smokable hemp once taxing regulations are put in place. Until then, hemp producers can sell smokable products in other states.
Hemp suppliers such as EcoGen BioSciences welcomed the new regulations, saying regulatory consistency would keep harmful products off the market, strengthening trust in the industry and ultimately encouraging growth.
“AB-45 provides a model for hemp framework across the United States that we believe is necessary to move the industry forward,” Garrett Bain, president of EcoGen BioSciences, told High Times. “As California takes the lead on clarifying the requirements for hemp to be included in food products and dietary supplements, we anticipate seeing other states adopt this model as well. These requirements that span labeling, serving size, testing regulations, and sourcing will allow hemp products to gain mainstream legitimacy and increased safety. Only through regulatory consistency will we see this industry grow to eliminate unlicensed and potentially harmful products from non-compliant manufacturers.”
Whether or not other states pass similar legislation, due to the size of California’s economy labeling standards such as warning statements and links to certified lab results will likely impact production and labelling nationally.
The California Cannabis Industry Association also celebrated the new rules. Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, said in a news release, “Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry has been steadfast in her approach to create a level playing field between cannabis and hemp while protecting the health and safety of all Californians.”