Bill to Legalize CBD in California Fizzles in State Senate

The bill would have allowed hemp-derived CBD to be included and sold in products, as well as set testing and labeling requirements for those products.

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September 3, 2020

CBD

After rounds of negotiations between hemp industry stakeholders and California lawmakers, a proposal to allow cannabidiol (CBD) in food and beverages in the state has fizzled.

The bill, AB 2028, which would have also set testing and labeling requirements for products containing cannabinoids sold in California, passed with unanimous votes by the California State Assembly, as well as the state’s Senate Health and Business and Professions Committees, over the summer. However, California legislative leaders didn’t schedule a vote for the bill before the session concluded Aug. 31.  

Hemp-derived CBD is currently illegal in products sold in California, aligning the state with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) position on the cannabinoid.

In a statement, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable said it was “profoundly disappointed” by the decision.

The hemp advocacy organization says California is now behind 21 other states, including Florida, Texas, Virginia and Ohio, that have already enacted hemp CBD laws.

U.S. Hemp Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller, however, shared optimism that the bill may still have potential in the future.

“We have been told by staff to Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins that there simply was not enough time to consider the amendments to the bill in the waning days of session,” Miller said in a statement. “Assuming that is the case, we are optimistic that a reintroduction of AB 2028 at the earliest possible date, with any necessary technical fixes, will ultimately be supported by both houses of the Legislature and signed by Governor [Gavin] Newsom.”

U.S. Hemp Roundtable said the bill was a “product of intense negotiations” between the organization, hemp farming and processing businesses and Gov. Newsom. The organization was pushing for CBD’s legalization in the state, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a hold of the nation’s economy.

If enacted, AB 2028 would have made California’s hemp CBD food and beverage industry an estimated value of $300 million in the first full year of operation, according to U.S. Hemp Roundtable.

“We are grateful to the bill’s authors for their unwavering leadership on this important issue and to the governor for working with us to craft an effective path forward for an industry that has been nothing less than meteoric in other parts of the country,” Miller said in a statement. “We are confident that California policymakers will embrace this policy before the hemp farming and the CBD industry become nothing more than an afterthought in the California economy.”