Federal Farm Bill, Hemp, and CBD Oil: What Cities Need to Know

Cities are expressing concern about an increase in sales of CBD oil made from hemp, but this oil is not likely subject to city regulation.
(Published Jan 7, 2019)

Have you noticed shops selling Cannabidiol (CBD) oil—perhaps even in your own city? It’s a rapidly changing area of law and life. Sales of CBD oil may become even more common due to new federal law.

On Dec. 20, 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the 2018 farm bill, became law. A part of that bill, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, removes hemp from the federally controlled substances list. It also authorizes states and Indian tribes to plan for primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp in their own jurisdictions, subject to federal approval. CBD oil is made from hemp.

What is hemp?

Hemp is a strain of the cannabis plant with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels of no more than 0.3 percent. Another strain of cannabis is marijuana, containing more THC, the chemical that makes a person high. Hemp does not contain much THC at all, so it does not make a person high.

How might this affect cities?

CBD oil made from hemp is not likely subject to city regulation. It does not contain tobacco and is not derived from tobacco. Since CBD oil made from hemp is no longer a federally controlled substance, possession of it is not likely subject to criminal law.

However, the regulatory authority of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) still applies. The FDA issued a statement in response to the 2018 farm bill noting the following: “Congress explicitly preserves the FDA’s current authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under federal law.”

The FDA statement continues, “Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law, but also can put patients at risk, as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective. This deceptive marketing of unproven treatments raises significant public health concerns, as it may keep some patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases.”

Given the uncertain interaction of the new and established federal law, cities might consider taking a step back and monitoring the issues, especially those affecting residents, businesses, and the agricultural community.

FAQs from the FDA

The FDA has posted answers to frequently asked questions to help the public understand how the FDA’s requirements apply to products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds. The FDA said it intends to update this web page moving forward to address questions regarding the Agriculture Improvement Act and regulation of these products generally.

—See FDA and Marijuana: Questions and Answers

For more information

If you have questions, contact the League’s Research Department at (651) 281-1200. The League is collecting resources and information on these topics should your city need more guidance.

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