Is Hemp Legal? The 2018 Farm Bill Low-down.

Since the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill on December 20, 2018, which took hemp off the Controlled Substance Act, questions continue to surface about the legalities of hemp products. Many people are confused about exactly what that signing created.

As a result of being removed from the Controlled Substance Act, hemp is now classified as an agricultural commodity, NOT a controlled substance like marijuana.

This is a huge caveat because hemp is no longer considered federally illegal.

Remarkably, the 2018 Farm Bill redefined hemp to include the “extracts, cannabinoids and derivative.” Congress removed hemp products, including hemp-derived CBD from the purview of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), provided THC levels remain below 0.3%. This legislation now makes it legal for federally-regulated institutions, like banks, e-commerce sites, banks, merchants and advertisers to conduct business with hemp and hemp CBD businesses.

These changes are key because now state governments CANNOT impose restrictions on the sale and growth and interstate transport of hemp products.

Now that the DEA has no jurisdiction over hemp and hemp products, the legality question continues because the FDA still retains its authority to regulate adding CBD to food and topical products as a dietary supplement. Herein, lies the confusion about hemp’s legalities.

To date, the FDA position about what defines a dietary supplement was established by the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). The DSHEA act defined a dietary supplement as a vitamin, mineral, herb or other botanical, amino acid or dietary substance used to supplement the diet. 

This law permits a wide range of dietary ingredients. However, even though CBD falls under the supplement definition, the FDA has not recognized CBD because it was later labeled as an illegal substance. Herein lies the conflict, because, hemp-CBD products were marketed as dietary supplements and or foods prior to drug investigations that placed hemp on controlled substance act.

Despite arguments that surround the legalities of CBD, FDA has NOT prohibited the sale of hemp-derived CBD products or constructed a product recall. Rather, they have sent warning letters since 2015 to companies who has made disease prevention claims. The legality of hemp is not the question, but rather, making CBD health claims is what FDA is restricting.

To date, the FDA’s position on CBD is unsettled and unsupported by legal grounds, but it is causing the chaos of confusion that surrounds hemp and CBD.

FDA Commission Scott Gottlieb reiterated the FDA’s current position about hemp-derived CBD, after the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. His position is that it is a violation of federal law to introduce CBD ingredients into the food supply or market them as supplements. However, for the very first time he referred to a new path toward the formal acceptance of hemp-derived CBD as a food additive or nutritional supplement. 

The first leg of the path, after signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, FDA recognized hulled hemp seed, hemp seed oil and hemp seed protein powder as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). This is a huge step forward for hemp products, because the GRAS conclusions state that if products are manufactured in a way that is consistent with specification, they are safe and can be added to foods.

The GRAS certification of hemp seed is recognition that hemp has come a long way toward becoming a safe ingestible product. Meanwhile, the buying public has already accepted hemp as a dietary supplement that delivers wellness, but we can’t say WHY or HOW.

But what we can say is that Engage Hemp Health does not add CBD isolate or any CBD ingredient to our products, rather we add 100% whole plant hemp flower powder, where CBD is a natural component, like it is in hemp seed.

Engage Hemp Health adds NOTHING AND TAKES NOTHING AWAY. We simply add a pure plant ingredient. Nature does the rest.

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