THC – The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine
(Published Magazine Page 68 & 69)
Business & Politics / Regulation of CBD Hemp Foods
The Regulatory Perils of CBD-Infused Foods
By Matthew Van Deventer (typed directly from the magazine article by Chris Bedrosian – please excuse any typos!)
At the 2015 INFO Expo, Chris Bedrosian, founder and owner of Flora’s Mercantile & Hemp Emporium, discovered the healing benefits of CBD for the first time and when an advocate handed her a syringe of the stuff. She’d been consuming medical marijuana for quite some time, particularly to keep her asthma and hypoglycemia in remission, but she didn’t know that CBD derived from hemp was strong enough to potentially cure cancer.
“When I found out that CBD cures cancer I was really angry, because if I had known I would have gotten it for my sister who died of cancer,” says Bedrosian. She spent the next six months researching the compound.
During those six months, Bedrosian, an experienced baker, perfected and tested recipes for baked goods infused with CBD derived from hemp. In April 2016, she started selling them at farmers’ markets in hopes of getting CBD goods into the hands of the people who need them.
That same month, she quickly took the next step in her business and geared up for wholesale operations by applying for a wholesale license from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). However, she ran into a roadblock – a big one. The CDPHE denied her the license.
“You indicated your operation would be engaged in the production of baked goods that include industrial hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) as ingredients. Industrial hemp seed and oil derivatives are approved food ingredients; however, federal regulations currently prohibit the use of CBD in food,’ reads a letter regarding the application.
It goes on the remind Bedrosian that she is a risk of enforcement, even from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if she produces or transports hemp against federal regulations.
The CBDPHE is Colorado’s state-level equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has a similar stance on hemp, explains Garrett Graff, and associate attorney at Hoban Law Group.
Per FDA regulations, CBD is treated as a Schedule I controlled substance and is therefore considered an “adulterant.” As a result, it is illegal to distribute CBD products across state lines as well as incorporate it into food products.
“[CDPHE] has basically taken guidance from the FDA and adopted the same position, that CBD should not be incorporated into products, primarily food products, like the ones Flora’s makes. And so they’ve taken this position that CBD is an adulterate. That’s basically the puzzle piece in terms of denying Flora’s their license,” says Graff.
However, this ruling conflicts with two major pieces of legislation, says Graff. The Farm Bill supports the cultivation and manufacturing of industrial hemp by academic institutions as well as private parties as long as they are in accordance with state law.
Further, the Consolidate Appropriations Act passed by Congress in 2016 states that funds cannot be used to prohibit the sale, processing, transportation, or use of industrial hemp in states that allow it.
As for the state level, the Colorado Industrial Hemp Act protects anyone dealing in or working with industrial hemp from civil and criminal cases.
“Under [the Colorado Industrial Hemp Act], the state legislature clearly paved the way for industrial hemp to be cultivated and products to be produced with derivatives of industrial hemp, and any agency action to the contrary would contradict its legal authority,” says Graff.
Graff disagrees with the DEA’s August announcement solidifying the agency’s stance against cannabis and tightening regulations on processing and transporting industrial hemp. He points out that the government doesn’t do a good job at differentiating between hemp and marijuana and that CBD regulation should be made separately from marijuana regulation, because it has not psychoactive component.
“Without saying anything adverse to the marijuana industry – I think it’s perfectly fine the way it is – there should not be any adverse impact of marijuana regulations and the restrictive regulations of that material on industrial hemp when such is not psychoactive or even allegedly has the risks that marijuana does,” says Graff. “That is the distinguishing factor.”
After challenging the ruling, Bedrosian did end up getting a (wholesale food manufacturing) license from the CDPHE, along with a stern reminder that her (food) products can’t have CBD in them.
She was, and still is selling her CBD-infused products through Colorado’s Cottage Foods Act, which allows people to sell a certain amount of baked goods and garden vegetables every year through farmers’ markets.
When Bedrosian was in a conference with her lawyer and the CDPHE, a representative told her that selling CBD-infused foods at farmer’s market is not allowed but not specifically disallowed, largely because there is no licensing (requirement to be Cottage Bakery in Colorado).
THC reached out to the CDPHE for clarification. However, when we asked them about their stance on CBD, CBD in Food, and denying Bedrosian a wholesale application, they did not respond.
Bedrosian now has a freezer full of packaged and labeled CBD-infused cookies, brownies and sweets, gallons of CBD oil (in honey), as well as bags of hemp buds ready to be processed. Thanks to the CDPHE, Bedrosian’s wholesale bakery operation is on hold, but it hasn’t stopped her from getting CBD out into the world.
Instead of edibles, Bedrosian sells other products in stores that aren’t advertised as food. “You can’t sell it as food, but you can sell it as cosmetics all the livelong day,” she says.
Her oils, honey, capsules and seed packets recently hit the shelves at Chicago Market, a Polish grocery off of Colfax Avenue and Carr Street (in Lakewood, CO).
The owner of Chicago Market, Krystyna Miller, has been using hemp products herself for some time. She has a display near the register of everything available. It’s one of the first things customers see as they walk in the door.
“I don’t see a problem with it,” says Miller who shrugs off the whole controversy around CBD.
She sells Flora’s CBD extract tinctures called “Go-Go Juice” as well as other hemp extracts packed with terpenes. She also sells honey, hemp capsules and teabags filled with hemp and CBD. There are also packet of hemp seeds for “planting,” and well, if you happen to put them on your cereal I the morning so be it.
Products can also be found at Buddha’s and Goudha’s in Boulder and other small shops in the Denver area.
Bedrosian is also revving up her farmers’ market operations to keep promoting her baked goods, and people can still buy them directly from her facility (Cottage Bakery) in Lakewood. However, it’s not a sustainable market without being able to go big. Farmers’ markets are often a jumping off point for businesses. Further, it costs Bedrosian an additional $1,200 annually (liability insurance for the commercial kitchen / baking space) because her products contain CBD; that’s four times as much as she paid for a standard baking operation when she lived in Boise, ID.
Perfecting the recipes was an intricate and timely process, making sure baked goods weren’t overpowered by the hemp taste. It’s important each item is chock-full of CBD, like in the 30mg range – only a small portion of that is absorbed when eaten, says Bedrosian. It depends on who’s eating it and even what they ate during the day, because the compound best metabolizes with fat.
“It is like a micro-dose and that’s what I do, I do food. So, food to me, that makes sense, eating a little bit in your food every day as a preventative measure versus having to take a big jab of Rick Simpson oil every day to cure cancer,” says Bedrosian. “So, this is what we’re trying to do, is just get it in food a little bit every day. Heath department says we can’t do that.”
She says she was the first person “dumb enough” to tell the truth on her application, because she isn’t looking to hide anything; she wants to do the right thing. “It’s important to do what we are doing. To lie about it would take away from it,” she says.
(text in parentheses have been added by myself, Chris Bedrosian, for clarity)
LINK to Blog Post regarding Flora's application to CDPHE for a Wholesale Food Manufacturing License: http://florasmercantile.com/blog/2016/8/17/new-post-date-title