California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed A.B. 45 into law, legalizing ingestible CBD products in the state.
It’s a big day for the state’s hemp industry, as it opens up a previously prohibited market for non-intoxicating hemp-derived extracts to be sold in dietary supplements, food and beverages, and pet products. Sale of these products is currently illegal on the federal level.
The law also sets a wide range of safety, testing, labeling and marketing requirements, including the requirements that hemp be tested in its raw extract form before it is incorporated into a final product. (See a summary of these requirements compiled by U.S. Hemp Roundtable here.)
With an emergency provision, the law took effect immediately.
CBD companies have already begun taking advantage of the new law. The day the law passed, market giant Charlotte’s Web announced it would be expanding its retail distribution into California, citing that it expects state retailers to expand or begin receiving product shipments from the company.
"A.B. 45 is a big win for Californians seeking wider access to the benefits of safe, high-quality hemp dietary supplements, the retailers who want to sell them, and the farmers and manufacturers who make and ship them," said Deanie Elsner, Charlotte's Web's chief executive officer, in a news release. "We appreciate Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry and her staff who have worked extensively bring oversight to hemp CBD products in the state."
The law has been three years in the making. While widely supported by the cannabinoid industry, it contains contentious aspects that some in the broader hemp industry are opposed to.
The law’s main hangup is its prohibition on selling inhalable hemp products in the state until legislators pass a tax on those products. In a news release, U.S. Hemp Roundtable said legislation will be introduced in the 2022 legislative session “to address open questions such as the tax regime on smokable hemp products.”
“The U.S. Hemp Roundtable will be fully engaged throughout this process,” the news release adds.
Inhalable hemp products may still be grown and manufactured only if they are destined to be sold in other states.
The law also defines hemp products as those containing less than 0.3% THC—and it defines THC as THCA (tetrahydrocannabolic acid) plus all THC isomers, including delta-8, delta-9 and delta-10. This extends beyond the federal definition hemp as containing less than 0.3% delta-9 THC plus THCA.
In its law analysis, U.S. Hemp Roundtable says the state’s department of public health “can exclude one or more isomers of THC through regulation if they are determined to be non-intoxicating” once it lays out official regulations. These regulations will initially be issued as guidance but must be formalized no more than 18 months “after the initial determination,” U.S. Hemp Roundtable says.
Despite some opposition, the bill also drew praise from others immediately after it passed.
“CHPA thanks Governor Newsom for signing A.B. 45 into law. There is strong consumer and commercial interest in CBD and hemp-derived products, and we applaud California for its leadership in creating a regulatory pathway to meet consumer demand, all while protecting the public from potentially unsafe products,” said Carlos Gutierrez, vice president of government affairs for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), in a statement. “CHPA continues to advocate for legislation allowing CBD to become a legally marketed dietary supplement ingredient and will work with federal and state government leaders to develop a regulatory pathway.”
Read more Hemp Grower coverage on AB 45: