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California Turns Up Pressure On Illegal Hemp Products

Like many other US states, California is scrambling to deal with the proliferation of easily attainable products containing intoxicating cannabinoids derived from hemp.

When it comes to cannabis, there aren’t many states as easy-going as California. It was the first state in the USA to allow medical use of cannabis, and recreational use was legalized in 2016. Legal cannabis is a huge business in California, reaching USD $5.3 billion in 2022.

But much has changed over the years, particularly since the 2018 Farm Bill that inadvertently provided a THC loophole at a federal level; arguably legalising products created by manipulating hemp-derived non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) into various forms of THC and other intoxicating cannabinoids.

In California, hemp products are separately regulated from the legal cannabis market. Late last week, Governor Gavin Newsom directed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to issue notices concerning the sale and distribution of illegal hemp products.

“Today, the state is taking action to protect Californians, especially our kids, as we work to further close loopholes and increase enforcement to prevent children from accessing hemp and cannabis products,” he said.

The CDPH notice can be found here and the ABC notice here.

The CDPH notice mentions industrial hemp derived consumer dietary supplements, food, or beverage products must comply with the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Laws, which indicate hemp products containing THC isolates in any form – including Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC and THC-O – are prohibited under Health and Safety Code section 109875. And if a hemp product package or label does not fully comply with related requirements, it is illegal.

“Mislabeled and misleading products do not belong in the marketplace—especially when they put our kids’ health and safety at risk,” said the Governor.

The state is working to close loopholes and increase enforcement in other ways too.  Last month, California’s Attorney General was one of 21 AGs across the USA who urged the Committee On Agriculture to narrow the definition of hemp in the new five-year reauthorization of the Farm Bill, closing the THC loophole at a federal level.

Steven Gothrinet
Steven Gothrinet has been part of the Hemp Gazette in-house reporting team since 2015. Steven's broad interest in cannabis was initially fueled by the realisation of industrial hemp's versatility across multiple sectors. You can contact Steve here.

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