The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production in the United States and removed cannabis with less than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the federal list of Controlled Substances.
But in the midst of the newfound freedom for growing hemp in the U.S., there are restrictions on how derivative products may be used as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) retained its regulatory authority over hemp and its extracts after the passage of the Farm Bill.
Under current federal law, hemp extracts such as cannabidiol (CBD) are not approved for commercial use as ingredients in food or drinks.
In light of the changes that may have caused some confusion in the manufactured food industry, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) released a statement on Sunday further clarifying CBD’s status as an unapproved food ingredient.
The statement explains that the FDA has approved a CBD-based drug for prescription of specific health conditions (referring to Epidiolex for epilepsy) but says that federal laws clearly prohibit the addition of drugs to food except in certain circumstances as outlined by the law.
“A new state law allows hemp production, consistent with the federal Farm Bill,” says the WSDA statement. “It authorizes WSDA to regulate the processing of hemp for food products that are allowable under federal law in the same manner as it regulates other food processing. If the FDA approves food ingredient uses for hemp extracts like CBD, those uses would be allowed under state law.”
But while CBD, hemp-derived or otherwise, is not allowed as a food ingredient, WSDA says that licensed and compliant food producers are permitted to use other hemp products such as hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein powder, and hemp seed oil in food.
FDA has determined that such hemp products are generally recognized as safe for consumption and can be used in human foods.