California CBD Food Product Attorneys

The versatile culinary potential of CBD is seemingly inexhaustible: Baked into gooey chocolate cookies, a few drops into a crisp sparkling wine or slow-cooked in a spicy chili sauce for chicken wings. Industry analysts project CBD’s popularity as a food item will quickly surpass cannabis and become a $22 billion subsector of the marijuana industry. But chefs should simmer their kitchen ambitions before discussing the legal implications with a Los Angeles CBD attorney.

Much to the chagrin of Golden State food and drink connoisseurs, federal and state authorities have expressly banned CBD and industrial hemp in food products. Yet with businesses across the country practically begging state and federal authorities for leaders to make an exception, it does appear the FDA may alter its stance soon.

In the meantime, the restaurants, cafes, lounges and other businesses promoting CBD-infused foods and drinks in California may be risking their investments, assets and freedom. Consulting an experienced Los Angeles CBD lawyer will help you navigate this complex system of patchwork laws.

What Is CBD and Why is it Banned just for Food?

California was the first state to approve medical marijuana. That, however, pertained only to patients. This was the sixth state to legalize the drug for recreation. CBD is part of the cannabis sativa plant.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is an increasingly popular natural remedy used for a wide range of common ailments. It’s just one of the more than 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. As our Los Angeles CBD food attorneys can explain, CBD contains little to no tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana pinpointed as the one that “gets you high.”

Unfortunately, despite legalization of smokable flowers, vapes, gummies and tinctures – the California Department of Health has been expressly clear on the fact that CBD is NOT permitted as an ingredient in edible food products here. Agency officials had been quoted on this fact repeatedly but underscored the point in a four-page memo July 2018, explained as an FAQ – Industrial Hemp and Cannabidiol in Food Products.

The agency conceded that while the state currently allows the manufacture/sales of marijuana products – including edibles – the use of both industrial hemp and CBD as an additive to food products is illegal, per U.S. Food & Drug Administration rules on industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products. State officials concluded that unless/until the FDA decides to CBD can be used a food OR until state lawmakers decide they’re safe for consumption by animals and humans, CBD and products derived from it won’t be considered an approved food, ingredient, additive or dietary supplement.

Although the CDPH Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch (MCSB) regulates medicinal and adult use of manufactured cannabis products, food products derived from industrial hemp aren’t covered by regulations from this agency. Instead, they are covered by the Food and Drug branch of the California Department of Public Health. Per statute, these include any article used/intended for use in human/animal food, drink, confections, condiments or chewing gum. Meanwhile, the California Department of Food and Agriculture regulates meat dairy, poultry and eggs.

The state health department has in part cited the Sherman Law for its restrictive stance on CBD. This provision of state law pertains to regulation of foods, drugs and cosmetics. The statute defines both drugs and food, the latter of which prohibiting anything that contains more than 0.03 percent THC. CBD that is derived from cannabis sativa wouldn’t meet that criteria, but CBD derived from industrial hemp could. Unfortunately, as our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers can explain, California defers to the overlapping federal laws on food commerce and best practices regards. That effectively takes hemp-derived CBD off the table too (literally).

How Federal Law Affects California’s Stance on Hemp, CBD in Food

The 2014 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation/manufacture of industrial hemp (from which some CBD is derived) by state agriculture departments and higher education institutions (for research) – and even then only if the state allows it (which California does).

Food labeling, food additives, dietary use products and general good food manufacturing practices, the state defers to The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA outlaws interstate commerce of food (human or animal) containing either THC or CBD, the latter regardless of whether it was sourced from cannabis sativa or industrial hemp. So even though the state permits manufacture/sales of edible cannabis products with low THC levels, federal law nixes low-TCH, hemp-derived CBD.

Manufacture and sales of CBD-infused topicals, creams and cosmetics continues to be a legal gray area.

If you have questions about the manufacture and/or sales of CBD food products in Los Angeles, our L.A. CBD attorneys can help.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

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