Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on April 16 signed into law landmark legislation legalizing the use of cannabinoid extracts, such as CBD, derived from industrial hemp as an ingredient in food and beverage products.
The measure states that “industrial hemp extract…is a food and is subject to applicable laws and regulations,” which will be administered by the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The bill further states that “’industrial hemp extract’ means an extract (i) of a Cannabis sativa plant that has a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol that is no greater than that allowed for hemp by federal law and (ii) that is intended for human consumption.”
Senate Bill 918, sponsored by state Senator David Marsden (D-Fairfax), will help guide the industrial hemp industry in Virginia by “regulating facility conditions and requirements for the production of hemp-derived products intended for human consumption,” reported NBC News. The bill… “gives validity to the CBD industry,” Charlotte Wright, a Virginia hemp farmer and owner of CBD company Hemp Queenz, told NBC News.
The bill authorizes the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to adopt regulations establishing contaminant tolerances, labeling requirements, and batch testing requirements. In addition, it provides that moneys collected under the chapter shall be deposited in the Virginia Industrial Hemp Fund, created by the bill. The bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry to report by Nov. 1, 2020, a plan for the long-term sustainability of funding for the state’s industrial hemp program.
The new law presumably will apply only to products meant to be produced and consumed within Virginia. The use of hemp-derived cannabidiol extract (CBD) in foods and beverage products and dietary supplements is still technically prohibited in interstate commerce, because the FDA has so far refused to recognize CBD as a safe food ingredient.
“While we commend the State of Virginia for taking the initiative to regulate products, we are concerned that a patchwork of state laws could confuse consumers and fail to provide all of the necessary federal safeguards, including setting a safe level of daily consumption for CBD. Unfortunately, this is another example of the states filling a vacuum created by the federal government’s inaction. We have promised to work with policymakers in Virginia and across the country to make real progress on regulating the growing CBD marketplace,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Natural Products Association.
In a letter to Governor Northam dated April 21, 2020, Fabricant wrote, “Congratulations on being the first state to declare cannabidiol (CBD) as a food under the law of the Commonwealth. With the signing of Senate Bill 918 into law, we wanted to inquire about the Administration and Board’s plans for implementation of the law, especially in light of the position of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Despite the agency’s actions and message, the market for CBD products in the US is surging and consumers are confused, Fabricant continued. “With these factors in mind, is the goal of the Commonwealth to challenge the current position of the FDA with regard to CBD or, is it to work with them on developing a Federal Standard with regards to CBD safety and quality standards?” he asked.
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Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural, providing brand marketing, PR, social media, and strategic business development services to natural, organic, sustainable and hemp/CBD products businesses. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo, and Hoffman serves as Editor of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.