Marijuana Business Magazine February 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | February 2019 32 I know it sounds crazy. But could the solution to CBD’s legal troubles be found in … Utah? The conservative western state recently told CBD producers they need to put a code on labels to prove the products are legal. The move came a few months after dozens of Utahns were sickened by synthetic CBD products. The Beehive State was following a path similar to one blazed by Indiana, which also is not known for embrac- ing progressive ideas. When it comes to CBD, though, Utah and Indiana might be on to something. (I told you this would sound crazy.) Hemp and CBD producers have roundly criticized the label rules as insufficient indicators of product quality. How many consumers, they say, are really going to scan a label’s QR code to gauge a product’s certifi- cate of origin or potency? The hemp industry sees the label requirements as useless red tape, but that’s because the hemp industry is thinking of consumers and not retail- ers and regulators. Proof in Print The CBD industry is in desperate need of an idiot-proof way to distin- guish legal CBD from illegal varieties derived from marijuana. For the average retailer selling CBD prod- ucts, a visit from a health inspector asking questions about a CBD item can lead to product seizures or even jail time. The problem won’t necessarily go away now that Congress has taken hemp out of the Controlled Substances Act. After all, there’s no way to tell if CBD was derived from marijuana, not hemp. Many in the hemp industry are pro- moting voluntary certification regimes to assure consumers that CBD products are safe and legal. But those laudable efforts won’t be enough. The U.S. Food and Drug Admin- istration has vowed to take a fresh look at CBD products, signaling national standards are on the way for CBD production. Those national standards can’t come soon enough. Government-Backed Labels Retailers need government-approved labels to show their products are legal, similar to how tobacco and alcohol products carry government labels ignored by consumers but used by local officials to ensure the prod- ucts aren’t counterfeit or bootlegged. The lack of a similar CBD label forces each CBD retailer to have a lawyer on speed dial in case a pesky local official asks whether the product is legal. I’ve addressed in previous columns the dangers of overregulation and how hemp should resist being steered toward the type of seed- to-sale tracking that plagues the marijuana industry. But simple state labels could be just the thing to make sure hemp never faces that kind of overregulation. Even as hemp and CBD’s legal obstacles peel away, rudimentary government labels could help speed CBD’s move out of head shops and dispensaries and into mass-market retailers. Hemp’s problem has always been its conflation with marijuana. The crop’s big victories don’t cover up the fact that CBD can be derived from marijuana or manufactured in a lab while looking identical to an organic and legally produced CBD product. For those who complain that jars of vitamins don’t have such labels, I’d reply that there’s never been a black market in echinacea or a vitamin C cartel. Why not embrace a little bit of red tape for CBD? What if a health inspector could tell at a simple glance whether a CBD tincture or topical came from legal hemp? Imagine how many retailers would feel at ease carrying CBD products if they had such markers. So, maybe the hemp industry shouldn’t be too quick to make fun of Utah and Indiana—at least not for their label ideas. Kristen Nichols is the editor of Hemp Industry Daily. Reach her at . Salt Lake SKU For CBD producers, standardized labeling is the easiest way to prove legality Hemp Notebook | Kristen Nichols