Hemp and Uncertainty
By: Gregory Wilkins
March 20th, 2019
The 2018 Farm Bill was a breath of fresh air for hemp growers across the United States with its passage in Early December. The Farm Bill brought with it a moment of regulatory certainly, and perhaps a clearer direction as to what and how cannabidiol (CBD), hemp and its products were to be regulated. Industry participants, Congress and the public rejoiced as Dr. Scott Gottlieb the Commissioner of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) stood before the House Appropriations Committee, Gottlieb stated “We heard Congress loud and clear with respect to [the 2018 Farm Bill] … I understand Congress wants there to be a pathway for CBD to be available.” This announcement for the first time since the Farm Bills passage that the FDA indicated it was going to help create a regulatory framework for CBD and a give Congress, state and local legislatures some clarity.
To date, the FDA has not stated its willingness to accept CBD as a food additive or dietary supplement. This is due to several reasons, including the recent pharmaceutical approval of Epidiolex which is a synthetic version of CBD for individuals with severe epilepsy. The FDA has done little in the past few years to curtail the flood of CBD food products into the market. The FDA has sent out a few warning letters asking retailers to stop the sale of food products added to Food. California and New York went further with outright ban on CBD additives in food and dietary supplements. What we do know is that with the exit of Gottlieb the states are going to have to wait for more regulatory certainty. This certainty has been stalled with Gottlieb’s exit, and is dependent on whom his successor is. The policy towards CBD in food or dietary supplements could shift to an open market or a highly regulated one.
The 2018 Farm Bill brought hope for hemp advocates across the country as it finally lifted the longtime ban on hemp and its never-ending list of biproducts and applications. The issue now is how the federal law will evolve in alignment with each state’s personal interpretation of the federal law, how their interpretation will affect interstate commerce, plant testing and quality, and specific product legality such as food additives. What we do know is that the potential market is massive, The Brightfield Group projected market growth to 22 Billion Dollars by 2022, up from roughly 591 million this year. One can hope that in time the FDA can bring forth a comprehensive set of regulations that will help organize, standardize and create a clear legal framework for each state to utilize amid this exponentially exploding industry. The lack of clarity has proven challenging for law enforcement, farmers, producers and retailers alike. 2019 is going to be an interesting year as eager participants and regulators alike must find common ground what is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.
When Wilkins was informed of the chance to create a brand-new hemp company in his native South Carolina with his family he was beyond floored. “I have always known that the cannabis plant is a miracle in so many ways, and when I saw the ability to be one of the first in South Carolina to work with hemp it was an offer I couldn’t turn down.” Wilkins has a background in commercial real estate development and a fond affinity for nature and the outdoors and “This translates well into the cannabis industry” says Wilkins. Wilkins believes there is going to be a massive shift from the public’s strict adherence to large pharmaceutical care options, to more wholistic and cannabis derived drugs. Wilkins is excited about the future of Indigo Ridge Hemp and the entire industry as a whole, “This is just the beginning,” finishes Wilkins.