The recent boom of CBD products across the nation is a result of the many changed minds, both in the public and the government, about the stigma of hemp and cannabis. Cannabidiol is now present in a number of health and beauty products for a variety of reasons, including its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD oil for pain relief is one of the most common uses for CBD. Because of the increasing understanding of the many benefits of CBD, California is considering some important legislation with bill AB-228.

Assembly Bill 228 was introduced into the California legislature in January 2019. While the legislature is on break until September, it's expected to quickly make its way through the final stages of approval and be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. However, AB-228 may not make CBD completely legal in the state of California.

Hemp CBD and the California Department of Public Health

In July 2018, the California Department of Public Health released an FAQ sheet for Industrial Hemp and Cannabidiol (CBD) in Food Products. In the FAQ, the CDPH essentially stated that CBD could not be used in any food or beverage products, making the case that CBD is illegal when used in these instances. However, their decision was based on the 2018 California Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law that CBD products in food and beverage items made them "adulterated."

The original purpose of AB-228 was to change the language and approach to CBD in food, beverage, and cosmetic products so that they would no longer be classified as adulterated items. However, the bill has grown as it has moved through the legislature, and if it is signed into law in September, it will help to eradicate the CDPH stigma on CBD and allow the hemp and CBD industry to grow across the state.

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The Current FAQs

According to the current CDPH FAQs, CBD is regulated in food items in the following ways:

  • Seeds and hemp seed oil derived from industrial hemp are allowed in food
  • CBD derived from cannabis is banned from foods
  • CBD oils are banned from foods
  • Hemp oil not derived from industrial hemp seeds is banned from foods
  • CBD oil-enhanced industrial hemp seed oil is banned from foods

The FAQ goes on to define the differences between hemp seed oil and CBD oil, which come from two different sources. While hemp seed oil is derived from the seeds of specific types of the cannabis sativa L. plant, CBD is usually derived from hemp, the male species of cannabis. Both contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the hypnotropic ingredient found in cannabis. However, the CDPH states that while hemp seed oil from industrial hemp can be used in foods, CBD oil for pain relief is not approved for human or animal consumption.

CBD hemp oil for pain derived from cannabis must come from approved and regulated California cannabis dispensaries and growers. Because it contains higher amounts of THC, it is not approved for food or beverages.

Finally, the FAQ also prohibits industrial hemp-derived CBD products from other states, claiming their final word as CBD products are not allowed in any foods as an additive, no matter where they come from.

AB-228

The much-anticipated AB-228 is a response to these unnecessarily strict CDPH guidelines and will do several things to alleviate these restrictions. Among them, AB-228 will:

  • Remove the "adulterated" label from products that contain CBD
  • Require labeling of CBD and hemp products that are added to cosmetics, food, and beverages
  • Food and beverage manufacturers would need to be registered and demonstrate that their sourced hemp meets all federal requirements
  • Require raw hemp to be lab-analyzed and certified before being sold for product use.

While AB-228 will do many things to protect the hemp industry, the CDPH may still fight the new law. It remains to be seen whether or not CBD products and people who want to buy CBD oil as a food additive will be welcomed with open arms by the CDPH.