CCIA Joins Coalition Partners in Advancing Hemp Regulations

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Logo: California Cannabis Industry Association

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – After complex and oftentimes heated discussions, CCIA is pleased to support AB 2028 by Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), which, as proposed to be amended, will establish a legal framework for the lawful manufacture and sale of hemp products, align California law with federal law for hemp cultivation and establish a platform to advance more meaningful changes to the State’s regulatory framework for cannabis.

While passage of the bill may ultimately be postponed due to recent COVID-19 cases in the legislature, we thought it was crucial to update you on the latest developments. You will no doubt hear all sorts of stories in the coming days (especially if this bill makes it to the floor and passes) about who did what and when, but make no mistake that CCIA was the only engaged part of the cannabis industry that remained active in negotiations with the hemp coalition, the author’s office and the governor’s office right up until the end.

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We were in the room and at the table fighting on your behalf to push for better laws and regulations that we knew could eventually benefit both hemp and cannabis. Because in the end, good hemp regulations make for better cannabis regulations.

AB 2028 is the product of over 18-months of extensive negotiations with a broad coalition and the Newsom Administration. Through these efforts, we were able to successfully achieve many critical priorities on behalf of our over 400 members, and the broader legal cannabis industry. Specifically, CCIA advanced the following critical priorities which have been incorporated into AB 2028, as proposed to be amended:

Establishes a framework for California hemp manufacturing. AB 2028 develops a robust framework to allow hemp CBD and other derivatives to be safely and legally manufactured and sold in food, beverages and dietary supplements across the state.

Protects consumers with strong labeling and advertising standards. AB 2028 outlines rigorous consumer safety protocols, including advertising and labeling standards, providing essential information to consumers that are based on existing standards for cannabis.

Ensures manufactured hemp products are safe. AB 2028 establishes comprehensive testing requirements that mirror the State’s current testing requirements for cannabis, guaranteeing the same level of safety and peace of mind currently afforded to cannabis consumers.

Ensures ongoing communication and collaboration among hemp and cannabis licensing agencies. AB 2028 establishes a process that requires coordination and ongoing communications amongst the licensing authorities charged with regulating both the cannabis and hemp industries. As outlined in the legislation, collaborative efforts will include the sharing of enforcement information to facilitate compliance and enforcement against unlicensed hemp manufacturers.

Provides a pathway for the incorporation of hemp into the cannabis supply chain. AB 2028 requires the development of a report by the cannabis licensing authorities on or before July 1, 2020, that will provide recommendations regarding the incorporation of hemp into the cannabis supply chain. Among other things, the report will explore a process to allow hemp CBD and other derivatives to be incorporated into cannabis products, and a framework to allow for the sale of hemp products by cannabis retail licensees.

In addition to these accomplishments, CCIA achieved other successes in the course of these negotiations with our coalition partners, including, but not limited to, the following:

Age restriction removed. When the Administration proposed to include language that would have banned the use of hemp products by individuals under 21 years of age, CCIA successfully advocated with our coalition partners to strike that language. As currently written, AB 2028 authorizes the Department of Public Health (DPH) to adopt regulations establishing an age requirement on certain products, but only upon a finding that those products are a threat to public health based on scientific research.

Ban on interstate sales removed. Prior versions of the language, as proposed by the Administration, would have banned the interstate sale of final form manufactured hemp products. This language was ultimately stricken, at the request of CCIA and our coalition partners.

Prohibited products section contains cannabis exemption language. While CCIA is disappointed that language remains in the bill to ban inhalable hemp products, we successfully advanced language to expressly exempt cannabis and cannabis products from the prohibited product section of the bill to ensure our products are not inadvertently captured.

Milligram cap removed. When the Administration proposed to set a milligram cap of 20 milligrams per serving, CCIA helped successfully advance amendments to the language that instead authorizes the DPH to establish a maximum serving size and serving per container threshold through the regulatory process. This will ensure adequate time for public input from both the hemp and cannabis industries.

While CCIA was able to achieve several important milestones, we are disappointed that this last-minute process was rushed in an effort to meet legislative deadlines and finally bring hemp regulation to California. The condensed time frame left little room for meaningful stakeholder input over the last week, and while we are grateful to have been a part of the final negotiations, many critical issues were set aside for discussion next year.

Nonetheless, we are pleased with the outcome of our work. CCIA heard the concerns of the cannabis industry and we understood there was risk if we didn’t do this right. There was risk to consumer safety, risk to how hemp and cannabis co-exist, and risk for a competitive divide to widen between the two industries. But behind all of this, we recognized the basic fact that hemp is cannabis, and that the hemp industry is our sister industry and represents a large and critical section of the total cannabinoid industry. It just happens that the hemp side of the cannabinoid industry was first to receive full legalization in the United States even though so much ado has been made about the THC side of the cannabinoid industry.

AB 2028 represents an important step forward as we work to achieve the goal of comprehensively aligning the two frameworks that regulate cannabis and hemp businesses in California. Whether this bill passes in the next few days or not, the work to regulate cannabinoids will continue and we look forward to working with you in the coming year.

In the meantime, CCIA wishes to express our sincere gratitude to the author and her staff for their steadfast commitment to addressing this important issue, as well as their thoughtful collaboration with the cannabis industry.

CCIA is proud to have been part of this critical undertaking. Anyone interested in helping to advance this policy and engage in thoughtful dialogue are encouraged to contact Eddie Franco at [email protected] for more information.

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