Here are the main stories from this week:
After a hemp forum in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he was willing to fix hemp “glitches” in the 2018 Farm Bill with further legislation.
The Farm Bill removed hemp from the federal list of controlled substances. However, police have intercepted shipments of legal hemp because they cannot differentiate it from marijuana.
“Some glitches remain to be worked out, and some of it may require legislation … I’m prepared to do my job … all the way into the end zone if it requires additional legislation,” said McConnell to the Associated Press.
In February, truck drivers were jailed in Oklahoma on drug trafficking charges after police searched their truck during a traffic stop violation and found what they thought was marijuana.
The truck actually contained 17,000 pounds of industrial hemp, which was confirmed by 11 separate tests and paperwork from the purchaser, yet the drivers remained jailed.
Later in February, Idaho police jailed a truck driver taking 6,700 pounds of industrial hemp from Oregon to Colorado.
The hemp tested well below the legal limit of 0.3% THC at 0.043%, but the driver remained in jail.
The Farm Bill notes that states cannot prohibit the interstate transportation of hemp; however, Idaho law does not allow any amount of THC in the state.
The US Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Greb Ibach told the AP his agency might work with other federal agencies to develop testing protocols for police to use during stops.
The USDA is currently working on hemp regulations, but officials are indicating they are in no rush.
The US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said his agency is taking the regulatory process for hemp slow.
Perdue acknowledged the excitement surrounding industrial hemp, mentioning that CBD was likely one of the main reasons for the excitement.
However, he tempered that excitement by saying “we’re taking this slow.”
A memo in February from the USDA noted that the agency intends to release the regulations in the fall of 2019 for the 2020 growing season.
Despite taking it slow, Perdue reiterated the department has the same timeline in mind for the regulations.
“Our goal is to have them out with plenty of time for the 2020 planting season, where we approve the state lands and the states will provide fees for participating, and they will be the primary regulator of the federal rules in that regard,” said Perdue.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to Perdue in February asking the USDA to “expeditiously” implement the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill.
The letter also requests that the department’s regulations allow for the interstate shipment of hemp and for businesses to have access to banking services.
On Thursday, Rite Aid announced it would start selling hemp-derived CBD products at over 200 stores in Washington and Oregon.
“Rite Aid has heard from many customers about their interest in purchasing CBD products,” the company said in a statement.
This announcement comes after rival drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens decided to begin selling CBD products as well.
CVS was first to announce it would be selling CBD products back in March, and Walgreens announced less than a week later that they would be, too.
Like Rite Aid, they both noted consumer demand as their motivation to take a risk on the cannabinoid despite its somewhat confusing legal status.
However, each retailer is playing it safe by only selling CBD topicals.
Current FDA regulations do not allow the use of CBD in food or supplements.
As a result, tinctures, capsules, and similar products are off-limits, making topicals the safest option for selling.
Consumer demand and the expectation of retailers entering the CBD market are the major reasons the hemp-derived CBD market is expected to explode.
According to the Brightfield Group’s projection, the industry could reach $22 billion by 2022.
Schmidt’s Naturals, a Unilever subsidiary, is creating hemp and CBD-infused deodorants that will launch later this year.
Schmidt’s—known for its deodorants made with all-natural ingredients—is creating two new iterations, one with hemp seed oil and another with cannabidiol.
Among its many other potential benefits, CBD is believed to have antibacterial properties that may help fight odor.
According to Michael Cammarata, the CEO of Schmidt’s Naturals, the CBD versions will be available in the states that have legalized marijuana.
The hemp seed deodorants will launch in September at Target stores across the country.
Hemp seeds are considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA and contain little to no traces of CBD.
Target dabbled with cannabis when it sold CBD oil from Charlotte’s Web in 2017, but removed it from their listing a week later.
Now that legislation has changed, the retailer seems to be easing back into the market with Schmidt’s hemp seed deodorants.
Schmidt’s was acquired by Unilever, Europe’s seventh-largest company, in 2017.
With a large business like Unilever entering the CBD market, it likely opens the door for other large companies to offer other CBD-related goods.
Currently, consumers can find CBD in almost any kind of body care products, including bath bombs, lip balms, patches, creams, lotions, and more.
However, this space lacks the presence of large companies such as Unilever.
Cammarata said Unilever allows Schmidt’s to operate independently but is ensuring that Schmidt’s complies with the laws regarding CBD.
“CBD is probably the most powerful ingredient that we’re going to see over the next decade in the personal care market,” said Cammarata in a phone interview with BNN Bloomberg.