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CBD-Only States: A Win for Medical Marijuana?  

CBD-Only States: A Win for Medical Marijuana?  
Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now


CBD-Only States: A Win for Medical Marijuana?  

What’s next for CBD in the United States after the passage of the Farm Bill? The future’s brightness varies depending on your vantage point.

With the removal of hemp-derived CBD from controlled substance status, big market growth is expected for the very chic and purportedly salubrious non-intoxicating cannabinoid.

Some 30 states have passed medical marijuana laws (of widely varying degrees of leniency) either by legislation or referendum since California led the way with Prop 215 in 1996. But these are now joined by several states that have legalized only products containing CBD not the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. There is some controversy as to whether these states should be recognized as “medical marijuana” states.

Utah was the first to adopt such a compromise measure in 2014, passing a law allowing medical use of cannabis extracts that contain CBD, though not actual cannabis and nothing containing THC. The move came in response to pressure from the parents of children suffering from severe epilepsy.

Numerous other states have since followed in passing CBD-specific laws. According to a breakdown provided by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) these are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

To this list can now be added Kansas, which in April 2018 passed a law exempting CBD products from the state’s criminal code. South Dakota passed a similar law in 2017, but it made sales contingent on approval by the federal Food & Drug Administration. And despite the Farm Bill provisions, the FDA has still not approved most CBD products, so for the moment the South Dakota law changes little.

Of these states, only two actually allow herbaceous cannabis: Texas and Florida. The laws in these states permit use of low-THC, CBD-rich strains but bar actually smoking it, allowing only vaporization.

But Florida in 2016 and Missouri and Utah in 2018 both passed general medical marijuana laws by referendum, though implementation of the Florida medical marijuana has been slow and fraught with controversy.

The imperative to keep CBD and marijuana distinct in the public mind is especially strong in states such as Mississippi with notoriously harsh cannabis laws. Wyoming has an especially limited CBD-only law, requiring a statement from a neurologist to the state Health Department that an epilepsy patient has not responded to other treatments.

Farm Bill Slices the Definition Thin

This imperative is also reflected in the language of the Farm Bill that President Trump signed days before Christmas. As the National Law Journal notes, Section 12619 of the Farm Bill formally removes hemp-derived products from Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act but does not legalize CBD more broadly.

“The Farm Bill authorizes CBD only to the extent that it is contained in hemp produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill and other federal and state regulations,” National Law Journal states.

Additionally, while hemp-derived CBD is removed from Schedule I, it is still subject to regulation by the Food & Drug Administration. And while the regulations are expected to change, the FDA currently considers CBD a drug and an illegal food ingredient.

Hemp Industry Daily has just issued a Hemp & CBD Industry Factbook, projecting that CBD sales in the U.S. will exceed $1 billion by 2020. It also notes that only 3 percent of hemp and CBD retailers responding to a survey for the Factbook described their shops as medical or recreational marijuana stores.

But in some states, there are actually legal obstacles to maintaining the distinction between CBD and “marijuana.” Ohio, Michigan and California have banned the sale of cannabinoids outside the state medical marijuana programs. In California, all hemp-derived CBD has been banned by state health authorities — only that derived from psychoactive cannabis covered by the state medical program is permitted. This law puts California squarely at odds with the federal Farm Bill.

Overall, there are still legal complexities, ambiguities and outright contradictions standing in the way of unfettered growth for the burgeoning CBD industry. And the distinction from long-stigmatized “marijuana” that so many have so much invested in may ultimately prove difficult to maintain.

TELL US, do you think CBD-only policies make sense?

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ariana Moxie Loving

    March 22, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    It is criminal of politicians to block the people’s free access to cannabis and hemp and to limit medical, or any other, cannabis users to CBD-only cannabis products.
    Because CBD-only cannabis only relieves some medical conditions while THC and other components of the plant are required to relieve other conditions. In what is called the entourage or the ensembe effect, various cannabis components,in addition to CBD must combine, as they do within the plant, for healing many conditions that don’t respond to CBD-only treatments.
    CBD products made from hemp lack medicinal value which is the reason thst medical-marijuana-savvy California’s law has blocked CBD products being made from hemp … Hemp is a great, sustainable source of fibre that is stronger than cotton for clothing, for making paper that is stronger than from wood and also cheaper to process and termite proof lumber. And hemp seeds add a nut-like flavor to smoothies and are high in protein and omega oils.
    But hemp is the male form of a cannabis plant that lacks the medicinal qualities of the female cannabis plants. which is the reason California law us in opposition of the Farm Bill.
    State legislators that are only allowing CBD cannabis products and/or are allowing sale of hemp-based CBD products are doing such a medical injustice to the people who live in their states that I call it criminal behavior. It is either based on accapting bribes from the many pharmaceutical industry lobbyists who do not want to see cannabis products with actual medical efficacy cut into their profits made from drugs such as opioids that have caused many deaths from overdose by people who had simply followed their prescription instructions.
    The potent CBD products made from the medicinal, female plant of cannabis (but NOT from the non-medicinal, male hemp plant) allow people in pain to reduce or even to eliminate the amount of opioids they require to manage their chronic pain. And big pharma, that views death as an acceptable side-effect of making a big profit, does not like that fact about the female, cannabis plant one little bit.
    That is the reason why we see corrupt and/or woefully ignorant or uncaring state politicians who claim to believe cannabis is a “bad drug” continue to regurgitate the false and ludicrous Federal government propaganda that criminalized cannabis and still likens the healing plant that has no deadly side-effects to the worst sort of life-destroying street drugs despite overwhelming evidence of its benign and healing nature.
    So far, it seems that people in many states continue to suffer and die as wealthy, corporate owners of what ought to be renamed Pig Pharma go about the business of protecting their wealth by bribing corrupt politicians.
    Easy to do in fundamentally religiously repressive states such as Utah where dinosauric Mormon patriarchs such as senator Orin Hatch dominate state politics.
    “If it feels good, don’t do it” might as well be the state religion’s motto … So why not ban all THC-containing cannabis products and also allow medically inferior hemp variety of CBD products to be sold?
    What better way to ensure big pharma will keep its profits as outraged people demand medical freedom than to decrease the efficacy of CBD products and ban THC?

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