What’s Happening in the World of California Hemp?

By David Kramer, Associate Attorney

Jun 21, 2019

A number of hemp bills are progressing through the California state legislature. Chief among them are AB-228 and SB-153.  

If passed in its current form, AB-228 would permit the retail sale of food, beverages, and cosmetic products containing industrial hemp (or cannabinoids, extracts, or derivatives from industrial hemp). AB-228 also states that such products are not considered adulterated by virtue of their inclusion of industrial hemp (or its cannabinoids, extracts, or derivatives). Together, these provisions seek to override the infamous FAQ issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in July 2018, which prohibits the sale of food products and dietary supplements containing hemp-derived CBD. 

In addition, AB-228 would require wholesale food facilities manufacturing industrial hemp products to register with the CDPH.  (At present, California law does not provide any permits, licenses, or requirements for the manufacturing or processing of industrial hemp or hemp products.) Finally, in what would constitute a major departure from existing California cannabis regulations, AB-228 would not prohibit cannabis manufacturers, retailers, and distributors from, respectively, manufacturing, selling, and distributing products containing industrial hemp (or cannabinoids, extracts, or derivatives from industrial hemp). Notably, AB-228 contains an urgency clause, meaning it would become effective immediately upon being signed into law.

SB-153 seeks to harmonize California’s industrial hemp program with the 2018 Farm Bill by requiring the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, in consultation with Governor Newsom and Attorney General Becerra, to submit a state plan to the United States Secretary of Agriculture no later than January 31, 2020. Because the 2018 Farm Bill requires the United States Secretary of Agriculture to approve or disapprove a state plan within 60 days of submission, California could have a USDA-approved state plan by March 31, 2020, assuming, of course, that SB-153 passes in its current form. This plan would govern all hemp cultivation in California.

Finally, we are pleased to announce that Vicente Sederberg LLP has joined the recently-formed California Hemp Council (CHC), which represents the interests of the hemp industry in The Golden State, including the protection and expansion of in-state cultivation, manufacturing, and use of hemp. The main goal of the CHC is to influence legislative and regulatory issues impacting the hemp industry and its related products, and to ensure that the industry has a strong, unified voice in Sacramento. In addition to Vicente Sederberg, CHC’s members include some of the most prominent hemp companies and thought leaders in the United States. 

David Kramer is an associate attorney and member of the hemp and cannabinoids practice at Vicente Sederberg LLP. Please contact him if you are interested in learning more about AB-228, SB-153, or the California Hemp Council.