Last week, I attended Portland’s Hemp CBD Connex, an annual event that highlights the vast potential of hemp and CBD.

Of interest to me–because my practice focuses on the regulatory framework of CBD products–was a panel entitled “Weeding Through the CBD Jungle: How to Grow, Run and Be Successful.” This panel was led by two experienced industry leaders: Stuart Bennett, VP of Contract Manufacturing for Canopy Growth, and Alex Rullo, Executive VP of Strength of Hope. Both panelists discussed the dos and don’ts of selling and distributing CBD products in interstate commerce and stressed the importance of complying with the CBD laws of each state in which a product is sold. This was music to my ears!

As you already know if you follow our blog, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has taken the position that CBD-infused foods and dietary supplements cannot be lawfully sold or marketed in the United States. Yet, states have adopted their own approaches to regulating CBD products that are not necessarily consistent with the FDA’s current position.

Some states, including Colorado and Oregon, allow the manufacture and sale of all CBD products, including food, dietary supplements, smokable products, and cosmetic products. Other states, like Idaho, strictly prohibit the production and/or sale of any such products. A handful of other states, including California, have banned certain categories of CBD products (usually food and dietary supplements) but seem to take no issue with the sale of other products, such as CBD cosmetics.

In addition, some states that have legalized the sale of Hemp CBD products impose their own regulations, including but not limited to labeling and testing requirements.

As we previously discussed, CBD manufacturers and distributors selling their products in interstate commerce should familiarize themselves with labeling and marketing laws in each state where they plan on placing their products. As a rule of thumb, companies should adopt the most stringent rules, such as those imposed by Indiana, Texas and Utah, to ensure compliance across state lines.

While it’s impossible to cover all state labeling and marketing laws in one blog post, I thought I would provide a brief overview of the label components that have become standard in the industry:

The FDA’s General Labeling Requirements

Every state that authorizes the sale of CBD products also mandates, in one way or another, that the labels of CBD products sold within their borders be labeled in accordance with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”). Under the FDCA, the labels of any product sold in the United States must contain four basic elements:

(1) An identity statement, which indicates what the product is;
(2) A net weight statement;
(3) A list of all ingredients, which in states like New Mexico and Colorado, must clearly identify hemp and CBD. This requirement makes it difficult for companies that are steering clear from using the term “CBD” in an attempt to mitigate the risk of enforcement action. For more information on this issue, please read here; and
(4) The name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor along with their street address.

Scannable Bar Code or QR Code

A growing number of states are mandating the use or a scannable bar code, QR code link or web address linked to a document containing information, pertaining to:

  • the batch identification number;
  • the product name;
  • the batch date;
  • the expiration date, which in some states like Indiana, must be not more than two (2) years from the date of manufacture;
  • the batch size;
  • the total quantity produced;
  • the ingredients used; and
  •  certificate of analysis.
FDA Warning Statement

States like Colorado require that the following statement appear on CBD product labels: “FDA has not evaluated this product for safety or efficacy.”

No Medical or Health Claims

As we have discussed at length, the FDA has limited its enforcement actions against CBD companies that make outrageous and unfounded health claims about the therapeutic values of their products. Nevertheless, many states demand that the labels of CBD products sold within their borders be free of any health claims. It’s important to understand that drug claims don’t need to be explicit. If a company implies that its product can be used to treat a disease, the FDA and local authorities may conclude that the product is a drug.  Consequently, if a CBD company makes any medical, disease, or bodily structure or functional claims or implications about its products, the FDA will likely conclude that the company is marketing unapproved drugs in violation of the FDCA.

Ensuring compliance with the labeling and marketing laws (and policies) of each state in which a CBD product is sold can be challenging, yet it is a crucial step in mitigating the risks of enforcement action by federal and state agencies.

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