As discussed previously here, the recent legalization of industrial hemp and hemp derivatives including cannabidiol (“CBD”) has raised questions about the permissibility of adding CBD to foods and supplements. Although the 2018 Farm Bill and NC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program allow for the regulated growth, processing, transport, and sale of hemp and CBD products, the Food and Drug Administration was quick to assert its enforcement authority under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. The FDA’s current position is that the addition of CBD to food and supplement products is not permissible and enforcement action may be taken against violators.
Beginning this week reports arose from New York, California, Maine, and other areas detailing enforcement action against businesses selling products containing CBD by state and local consumer protection and food safety agencies. This enforcement has included fines, seizure of inventory, and deductions on health and food sanitation scores.
Today, North Carolina reported that it will also begin enforcement action against businesses that are engaged in the impermissible sale of CBD-infused foods. The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will begin sending out letters on February 11th to companies in violation of state and federal law related to CBD. The focus appears to be educating those involved in the hemp industry. In a statement, the Department of Agriculture stated that the letters are intended to advise noncompliant companies of the current status of the law. While the State’s compliance strategy is subject to change and legal action is possible, for the time being, the warning letters will not include a reference to an immediate penalty or fine.
Laws, regulations, and enforcement practices are quickly changing for the industrial hemp and CBD industry. If you have questions, please contact the attorneys at Dysart Willis.