Last week we reported on Chris Martin, co-owner of Hempful Farms. His situation has caught some off guard, including Martin himself, as many thought the passage of the farm bill meant that selling hemp-derived products carried little risk.
Martin received a letter from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Services Center that may be sending a clear signal otherwise. The letter informed him that a package containing CBD products of his had been seized in California. For Martin, the situation was tense but he hoped it was an isolated nuisance.
Unfortunately for Martin, this does not seem to be the case. A headshop in Yuma Arizona carrying Martin’s CBD products was raided late last week. Martin is not only out of product but is also without answers.
“There was no due process,” Martin said of the raid. According to what Martin was told by the headshop’s staff, the raid was conducted by the FDA agents. “They had no warrant and none of my inventory was left after the raid,” Martin said based on what he was told by the shop’s staff.
Although the farm bill legalized hemp, and in turn, most feel that hemp derived CBD products are included, it is unclear how the FDA will move forward with enforcement. Jeff Sessions, a longtime foil for the cannabis industry, is no longer the U.S. Attorney General. While this news was initially heralded by the cannabis industry, there is little clarity as to how the Trump administration plans on enforcing or amending cannabis policy. Acting U.S. Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker, made several public comments that signaled an openness to medicinal cannabis use but has not weighed in since assuming his temporary role as U.S. Attorney General. Trump’s permanent nominee, William Barr, served in the role under President George H.W. Bush’s administration. At the time, he was a proponent of harsher penalties for narcotics possession.
Currently, the FDA is low on resources as the federal government shutdown is preventing the FDA from doing much of its typical work. Inquiries for comment to the FDA were not answered. However, the FDA did send an automatic email reply that said: “All of the FDA’s work is important, but only some of it is permitted to continue during a lapse in appropriations.”
While the farm bill could ultimately be a positive development for the cannabis and CBD industry, producers may still want to heir on the side of caution, at least for the time being. We will continue to provide updates on this story as we receive them.