You could soon see more pet food, beverages and lotions with CBD in them in your local store aisles. Governor Newsom this month signed a handful of cannabis laws that could change the industry for both consumers and stakeholders.
Leafly Senior Editor David Downs talks about some of what’s new.
KCRW: What is this new hemp rule about? And what does it have to do with CBD?
David Downs: “The CBD gold rush in America continues with Assembly Bill 45. It's a rollout from the 2018 farm bill, which at the federal level designated cannabis that is less than 0.3% THC — that’s the main active ingredient in marijuana — is not marijuana. In fact, it's hemp, it won't get you stoned.
We've had about 100 years of hemp prohibition here in California, which is weird because it's [been] a food, a fuel, a fiber and a medicine for thousands of years. And now there's a framework for growing and selling it here in California.
As long as it follows a bunch of rules and meets a bunch of new milestones for other regulations, we could be looking at CBD and many more things in the years to come.”
What kind of new products will this include?
“Food, drinks, cosmetics — anything you could put CBD in. You cannot put it in an inhalable product right now as there are 21 and older limits, as well as new limits on dangerous additives.
You'd have to register with the Department of Health and follow the rules like you can market it to kids, pregnant or breastfeeding people. There are also these advertising restrictions. You need to label it and test it.
With more CBD products rolling out, the big question is: What do you do with the legal cannabis industry?
By July 1, 2022, a report has to go to the governor on potentially adding hemp to the cannabis supply chain. That's a big deal. Because hemp is being grown all over America.
Those guys are banging on the doors of our licensed dispensaries here in California, and so far regulators have been trying to keep the wild and wooly hemp trade out of their locked-down THC cannabis trade in the state.”
Is the law going to have an impact on what some call hemp’s designer drug, delta-8?
“Under AB 45, you cannot put delta-8 THC in a CBD product. It makes a big difference that CBD is specifically not THC, or some of these other ‘isomers of THC.’ All these weird designer or novel cannabinoids coming out, the regulators are going to be taking a very jaundiced-eyed look at them vis-à-vis traditional CBD, which again has no euphoric effect and does not make you giggly.”
Can you explain a new law that brings the focus back to cannabis’ medical usage?
“Senate Bill 311 — Ryan's law — allows people to use cannabis for cancer, chemotherapy, nausea and neuropathic pain, sleep, anxiety and spasms when they're terminally ill in a hospital setting.
Medical marijuana started with the sickest people needing a medical defense against using cannabis for end-of-life issues. Up until now people have been sneaking cannabis in hospital settings.
There's a bunch of caveats to SB 311, but in general it says yes to the terminally ill accessing cannabinoids in a medical setting for the first time here in California. That's a big deal.
Other medical marijuana states have promulgated similar protections for patients, but it's sort of circled back to the state that started the medical marijuana revolution California itself.”
Governor Newsom vetoed a similar bill in 2019. What changed this time around?
“The governor said that he hasn't really heard from the federal authorities about the issue with cannabis being a schedule one drug that is deemed to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. SB 311 says, assuming the feds don't mind you facilitating access on your facility, assuming you don't get a letter or note, you have to allow people to use this.
And it remains to be seen if there's going to be pushback from federal authorities. But so far, they seem to have bigger priorities than messing with end-of-life issues with the terminally ill here in hospital settings.”
One bill that didn’t make the cut would have let cannabis stakeholders advertise on freeway billboards. Why was it axed?
“It’s because of Proposition 64. When voters passed it, it essentially banned interstate freeway billboard advertising. This is a bigger question of where you can advertise drugs in the U.S.
Up until the 80s, we didn't have direct-to-consumer drug advertising. With cannabis legalization, parents are really sensitive to what their teens are seeing on the freeway. The promise of Prop 64 was that marijuana would be kept out of the public view.
The industry still wants the billboard advertising rights because they're limited in terms of where they can advertise — whether it's Yelp, local signage, Google, Facebook or Instagram. But the fact remains is that there's this tussle over what free speech really is, and whether commercial drug advertisement is protected speech.
Highway billboards are pretty old school, and I think weed people think they're more creative than that. So we're seeing businesses go for more direct advertising, like email newsletters or simple message services.”