This week, the FDA announced that despite the Farm Bill’s legalization of hemp, CBD products remain illegal, as CBD is a drug ingredient and therefore unlawful to add to food or health products without FDA approval. Elsewhere, in Arkansas, the scores of medical marijuana dispensary applicants were announced.
Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.
- Federal: The hemp industry still has work ahead to win legal status for hemp-derived CBD as an ingredient in food or dietary supplements despite the Farm Bill that President Donald Trump signed, designating hemp as an agricultural crop. In a statement following the Dec. 20 bill signing in Washington, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb restated his agency’s stance that CBD is a drug ingredient and therefore illegal to add to food or health products without approval from his agency. Read more
- In a historic landmark decision, the U.S. Tax Court has ruled that Harborside, a California dispensary, is not liable for accuracy-related 280E penalties. According to the Opinion issued by the Court, Harborside acted “reasonably and in good faith” when taking its tax positions for the years at issue. Read more
- Oregon: Oregon regulators will allow medical marijuana to be delivered to patients who live in areas of the state where licensed marijuana activity is prohibited. The rules were approved last week by the state Liquor Control Commission and go into effect Dec. 28. Read more
- Arkansas: The state has released the scores that determine which companies will receive the 32 licenses to sell medical marijuana in Arkansas. There were 198 applications. Read more
- Ohio: Ohio's first testing lab for medical marijuana got the green light from the state to open, which means sales can move forward as cultivators harvest their product and dispensaries decide to open. North Coast Testing Laboratories LLC of the northeastern Ohio town of Streetsboro passed inspection earlier this week and was awarded a certificate of operation Dec. 20. Read more
- Massachusetts: A proposed law in Massachusetts would bar employers from firing workers for using marijuana legally on their own time. While recreational marijuana use is legal for adults in the state, workers can still be fired for using the drug, even if it's outside of work and its effects have worn off by the time they return to their jobs. Read more
- South Carolina: State Sen. Greg Hembree filed a bill to push the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to research the use of medical marijuana. The proposed bill urges the federal government to remove barriers to conduct research on the medicinal value of cannabis, and Hembree said if this passes, it will send a message to the FDA. Read more
- Florida: Defending a 2017 law that set regulations for the state’s medical-marijuana industry, Florida Department of Health attorneys have asked an appeals court to overturn a circuit judge’s ruling that they say “injected confusion and uncertainty” into the licensing of marijuana firms. The closely watched case centers on whether a law passed during a 2017 special legislative session violated a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. Read more
- New Hampshire: A proposed bill drafted by State Rep. Renny Cushing would legalize recreational marijuana sales in New Hampshire, allowing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older. The proposal would also set up a cannabis control commission to license and regulate businesses. Read more
- Georgia: The Joint Study Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access has recommended in-state cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing of medical cannabis oils. “The report kind of gives a baseline for a bill,” said Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, co-chair of the commission, and the next step will be for the legislators on the commission to draft a bill to put those recommendations into action. Read more