California’s Assembly Bill 45

Recently, the state of California passed Assembly Bill 45—a piece of legislation that formally legalized hemp and hemp-derived CBD in the Golden State. But wait a minute. Isn’t CBD already legal?

From infused dog treats to beauty products, it seems like the shelves of Californian stores are already brimming with the non-intoxicating cannabinoid. Not to mention the countless online CBD retailers who ship up and down the West Coast. 

Cannabis laws can get complicated, especially for those outside the industry, but here’s what Assembly Bill 45 really means for the future of hemp, both in California and the rest of the country. 

What Is Assembly Bill 45?

Assembly Bill 45, often abbreviated to AB 45, is a piece of legislation approved by State legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom in September of 2021. What AB 45 does is officially legalize hemp and CBD in the state, as well as sets up formal regulations governing the CBD market in the state. 

Is Hemp-derived CBD Already Legal? 

Prior to the passing of AB 45, CBD products were already frequently sold across the United States, including in California. Three years ago, the federal government passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production on a federal level. Ultimately, despite the provisions outlined in the Farm Bill, it’s been up to each individual state to set its own laws and regulations around the sale of hemp and hemp-related products. That being said, no state can restrict the shipment of CBD products through its borders. 

Most states have made allowances for CBD commerce to take place. However, with the exception of the treatment for certain seizure disorders, the FDA hasn’t approved CBD for medicinal use or for use in food and beverages. According to the Food And Drug Administration’s website,

“It is prohibited to introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce any food (including any animal food or feed) to which has been added a substance which is an active ingredient in a drug product that has been approved under section 505 of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. § 355], or a drug for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public.” 

So technically speaking, CBD gummies, infused beverages, or any type of edible are prohibited by the FDA. The agency has been pretty lenient when it comes to this, as evident by the thousands of edible CBD products available online and at dispensaries, but this does mean that all those products are currently unregulated by the FDA. Without any federal oversight, any regulations surrounding the sale of CBD will have to come from state governments, which is what AB 45 sets out to do.

Key Provisions In Assembly Bill 45

One of the most important things AB 45 does is it makes allowances for CBD-infused edibles and cosmetics to be manufactured and sold in California and creates a process for these manufacturers to register with the state. It will still be illegal to add CBD to prescription medicine, medical devices, or products that contain nicotine or alcohol. AB 45 also prevents the sale of inhalable CBD products inside California until a tax is imposed. It’s unclear when that aforementioned tax will go into effect.

AB 45 also prohibits CBD sellers from making false health claims about CBD. While this seems obvious, it’s been a rampant problem in the current unregulated CBD market, with some companies even going so far as to claim CBD can cure covid and cancer. 

Manufacturers of CBD products will now be required to source their hemp from a country or state with an industrial hemp program that includes food safety criteria and is approved by California. In addition, all hemp products will be required to undergo lab testing for potency and potential contaminants like heavy metals and mycotoxins. While some companies, like E1011 Labs, have already committed to rigorous testing practices, many others have shirked the responsibility to public safety in favor of maximizing profits. 

It’s still up in the air how exactly AB 45 will impact the current hemp industry in California, but the increased regulations may help consumers access safer cannabinoids.

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