California Finally Legalizes CBD-Infused Foods, Drinks, and Cosmetics
Three years after officially banning all CBD-infused products, California has finally gotten around to legalizing and regulating its hemp-derived cannabinoid industry
Published on October 14, 2021

California has finally passed a law to legalize and regulate the sale of CBD-infused foods, drinks, cosmetics, dietary supplements, and pet food.

Of course, there are already thousands of CBD-infused products available at pretty much every pharmacy, grocery store, and deli in the state, but this new law officially legalizes and regulates them. CBD products have been proliferating over the past several years, but the industry really took off in 2019 after the federal government legalized industrial hemp.

The US Food and Drug Administration still hasn't gotten around to releasing regulations for CBD-infused foods, drinks, and supplements, though, so these products are all technically illegal. And without federal regulations in place, there are no safeguards to ensure that hemp products are free from pesticides or other contaminants, or that they even contain the amount of CBD advertised on their labels. This lack of regulation convinced California to ban most CBD products in 2018, and other states have followed suit since then.

At long last, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that reverses the state ban on hemp-infused products and establishes new regulations for this sprawling industry. Under the new law, companies can legally add hemp-derived cannabinoids to food, beverages, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and even pet food, as long as they follow the state’s new rules. 

All legal hemp products must comply with federal laws limiting THC content to 0.3 percent or lower, and delta-8-THC and other intoxicating hemp isomers remain explicitly prohibited. California’s new law also maintains the statewide ban on smokable hemp flower, a decision that has been criticized by many local hemp farmers.

To comply with the new regulations, hemp-infused products must be laboratory-tested to ensure that they don’t exceed the THC limit and are free from contaminants. Infused foods, beverages, and dietary supplements must include a scannable barcode that links to the product's test results. All product packaging must include statements warning pregnant or breastfeeding women and children not to use the product without first consulting a physician.

The law also imposes additional requirements to ensure that state-approved products still adhere to federal law. All products must include a statement noting that “the FDA has not evaluated this product for safety and efficacy,” and companies are prohibited from claiming that their products can treat specific medical conditions, or make any other claims regarding the health benefits of hemp. In order to prevent further conflicts with the feds, the law also has a loophole allowing the state health department to revise these regulations as necessary.

Industry insiders expect that the new regulations will herald a major shift in California's hemp industry. While many companies have been content to buck the rules and sell unregulated CBD products, some larger hemp producers have actually held off selling products in the Golden State. Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth is one company that has been waiting for California to pass these regulations before attempting to enter the state’s hemp market.

“This is the bill that opens up the California market,” said Canopy head of lobbying David Culver to Hemp Industry Daily. “This is going [to] provide that regulatory certainty for retailers in the state so that they’re not worried about products being confiscated.”

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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