California’s Hostility Towards CBD

The State of California’s position is made very clear by the California Department of Public Health FAQ for CBD  (Frequently asked Questions for Industrial Hemp and Cannabidiol (CBD) in Food Products)

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Food and Drug Branch (FDB) has received numerous inquiries from food processors and retailers who are interested in using industrial hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil or CBD products in food since the legalization of medicinal and adult-use marijuana (cannabis) in California.

In California, the CDPH Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch (MCSB) regulates medicinal and adult use manufactured cannabis products. However, food products derived from industrial hemp are not covered by MCSB regulations. Instead, these products fall under the jurisdiction of CDPH-FDB.

California defines “food” as follows: (a) Any article used or intended for use for food, drink, confection, condiment, or chewing gum by man or other animal. (b) Any article used or intended for use as a component of any article designated in subdivision (a).(1)

In California CBD does not fall under the jurisdiction of one of the special departments in California set up for Cannabis which is The California Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch but falls under the jurisdiction of the old Food and Drug Branch that was created before Cannabis was made legal.

Therefore all the new regulations enacted by the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch to legalize and regulate THC in California does not apply to CBD.   

The Farm Bill Act of 2018 created a new legal product called “Hemp.”, however this new product of Hemp was created AFTER the state of California made Cannabis legal.  So this new product HEMP has not been addressed or recognized by the state and therefore anything derived from this new product is considered a new drug and not yet been recognized or covered by California law. 

The Federal Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill, only legalized the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp by state departments of agriculture and institutions of higher education (as defined in Title 20 of the United States Code section 1001) for purposes of research under a state pilot program or other agricultural or academic research. In addition, growing or cultivation is only permitted under the Farm Bill if growing or cultivating is allowed under the laws of the State in which such state department or institution is located in, and where such research occurs. In California, the cultivation of industrial hemp is regulated by the CDFA

“Industrial Hemp” is defined as follows by the CDFA: “a fiber or oilseed crop, or both, that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. having no more than three-tenths of 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops, whether growing or not; the seeds of the plant; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin produced therefrom.”

California incorporates federal law regarding food additives, dietary use products, food labeling, and good manufacturing practices for food. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all forms of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal to grow it in the United States.

Currently, the FDA has concluded that it is a prohibited act to introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce any food (including any animal food or feed) to which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or CBD has been added. This is regardless of the source of the CBD – derived from industrial hemp or cannabis.

Therefore, although California currently allows the manufacturing and sales of cannabis products (including edibles), the use of industrial hemp as the source of CBD to be added to food products is prohibited. Until the FDA rules that industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products can be used as a food or California makes a determination that they are safe to use for human and animal consumption, CBD products are not an approved food, food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement.


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