KENNEWICK, Wash. - Washington state is looking to limit where some cannabidiol, or CBD, products can be sold, like grocery stores and gas stations.
The Washington Department of Agriculture issued a statement clarifying that it is illegal to sell CBD-infused food and drinks outside of a state licensed marijuana retail store.
The department doesn't intend to give out fines currently, they are focused on warning businesses until they can establish concrete rules.
"What we're doing right now is an education and outreach effort because, understandably, there's some confusion about what's legal and not legal," Washington Agriculture Department spokesperson Chris McGann said.
The 2018 Farm Bill declared hemp was not a controlled substance. Since then, several businesses have started using hemp in edible products. The Department of Agriculture clarifies that the Federal Drug Administration has not certified cannabidoil, which is extracted from the hemp plant. It is not considered a legal food additive as it is still in the testing phase.
The confusion extends past retail stores though. Shops like CBD American Shaman, a store in Kennewick only sells cannabidiol. The store opened in October 2018 and sell several variations of products, including edibles.
Store owner, Donald Lewis, helped open CBD shops in Oklahoma before moving to Washington state. He told KAPP-KVEW that his business tests all of their products and even tests the ground soil their hemp is grown in.
"Without testing the product people could be taking metals or pesticides into their bodies," Lewis said.
Lewis wants the state to regulate the industry to keep consumers safe but says there are several companies already regulating their products.
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable is a national group of hemp and cannabidoil supporters and business owners that self-regulate and Lewis says his company is a part of their efforts.
"I hope that the state of Washington listens to people like us that are already in the industry and already do this stuff on our own and doing it without being asked," Lewis said.
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable shared a statement on Friday addressing the national CBD edible concerns.
"As you are well aware, the primary policy challenge facing the hemp-derived CBD industry is guidance issued by FDA, opining that it is illegal for CBD to be introduced into interstate commerce as a food additive or dietary supplement," the U.S. Hemp Roundtable wrote online, "While the FDA has announced that it will unveil its timetable for action this fall, it could be many months before they issue a formal regulation."
The group also runs the U.S. Hemp Authority Certification Program, an initiative to provide high standards and practices to the hemp industry. In a press release, they say the program aims at “standardizing quality control and building a safer hemp industry from seed to shelf."
A quality seal is issued by the program to companies that produce high-quality CBD products.
Lewis hopes his company will receive the seal so consumers know his product is of quality and trust.
"If people are looking for that seal they will know that product is good," Lewis said.
Lewis says his company also puts QR codes on their products to give consumers access to where the product comes from. By scanning the code with a cellphone, users can find information about the hemp, testing process, and region of the product.
The Department of Agriculture has not issued fines yet but are encouraging distributors to stop selling the products. Retailers are still allowed to sell lotions and creams.
State officials in Oregon still support CBD food and drink products and say since hemp is not a drug, it cannot alter food products.
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