By Joy Johnston
2019 looked to be a banner year for CBD, with the passage of the Farm Bill at the end of 2018, which legalized hemp and hemp-derived CBD at the federal level. And yes, CBD is everywhere and being talked about by just about everyone this year. But that increased attention has put an unfortunate, and in many cases, inappropriate bullseye on CBD and hemp products. Innocent people have been arrested, CBD shops have been raided and states have offered an often confusing mix of legislation in response to the 2018 Farm Bill.
Here are my takeaways as an active CBD user and advocate for the past year.
The Farm Bill did not provide the instant nationwide acceptance of hemp that some hoped it would, as it allows states to regulate hemp and CBD as they see fit. That prompted some conservative states to pass laws tightly restricting or banning CBD products. And while interstate transport of hemp was legalized with the Farm Bill, people have been arrested for hauling hemp in bulk because of outdated testing techniques. (See below.)
The FDA is taking a slow, cautious approach. That is to be expected, but there is some uncertainty with new leadership at the helm. Former FDA head Scott Gottlieb had made some statements suggesting that a regulatory pathway for CBD products could be established, but an organizational shakeup could delay such work. A public hearing on CBD is scheduled at the end of May, but there is likely a long way to go before the FDA releases its CBD guidelines. That is unfortunate, because some states are waiting on the FDA to provide guidelines before legalizing CBD in their jurisdictions.
- Travel with CBD at your own risk. It was announced this week that new TSA guidelines recognize that it is legal to fly with hemp-derived CBD. Prior to the TSA directive, arrests for CBD were occurring at major U.S. airports. However, see my point below as to why I will not risk traveling with CBD for now. If you live in a conservative state with murky guidelines on hemp, I would avoid carrying CBD products while traveling by car. If you are planning a trip to Disney World or anywhere that requires a bag check, beware. A great-grandmother was arrested at Disney World for hemp-based CBD oil recommended by her physician. While prosecutors declined to charge, she was detained for hours.
Testing techniques need to catch up to the law: There have been numerous cases this year of people being arrested for suspected THC, but it turned out to be hemp. Even though the person told the police it was legal hemp-based CBD, the mobile test that police use to detect marijuana found trace amounts of THC in the hemp-based product, triggering an arrest. In most cases, the charges have been dropped, but the damage has been unfairly done to that person's reputation. Testing needs to be modernized as hemp and marijuana products look and smell similar as both come from the cannabis family.
I'm still using CBD products: I live in a conservative state, but I have had no issues ordering hemp-based CBD products online and having them shipped to me. I am finding that CBD is just as valuable for my health as it is for my pets. It has proven to be invaluable in treating anxiety in my foster dogs and I hope that misguided bureaucrats don't get in the way of a federally legalized product. My advice is to stick with reputable vendors who provide legal paperwork with their shipments. Use CBD inside your own home; don't use or carry in public. The road to full CBD legalization has hit a few potholes in some states, but I remain hopeful that in time these issues will be resolved.