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Hemp was legalized at the federal level in 2018, but products made with CBD are still unregulated.
Hemp fortified products will soon be subjected to pesticide tests similar to those of their marijuana counterparts.
A lack of state guidance since the state legalization of hemp in 2018 has led Colorado to self-regulate CBD and hemp-derived extracts. After an oversupply in the industry due to an oversupply of hemp biomass, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment began implementing hemp regulations in April.
The new rules are scheduled to go into full effect on October 1, but testing for 106 different pesticides, as well as heavy metals and other residual solvents used in hemp extraction, has already begun, according to Jeff Lawrence, CDPHE director of environmental health and sustainability. Ingredients extracted from hemp and intended for consumption, including food, beverages, cosmetics and pet products, are tested.
“Ultimately, this is a public health issue. In 2018, when these products were legal, we said they would be treated like any other food and supplement, ”explains Lawrence.
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A list of areas where Colorado’s hemp rules needed reform was drawn up earlier this year by a federally recognized body, including guidelines for new CBD and hemp extract testing. In addition to the pollutant tests, the new regulations require that an exact percentage of the THC content must be stated on hemp product labels.
The CBD craze may calm down, but Lawrence says Colorado wants to help legitimize a still-growing hemp industry by enforcing universal standards, similar to the safety regulations already enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The rules do not apply to industrial hemp products that are not intended for human consumption, such as textiles, fuel and other industrial materials. Smokable products made from hemp are also excluded, including those with modified cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC.
“We don’t want to burden the industry,” says Lawrence. “But we have learned that with hemp products there are things that we naturally have to take into account. Colorado has been a leader in the industry since the introduction of hemp. This will provide a better orientation. ”
The first introduction of the regulations began in April, with most of the testing requirements for heavy metals, microbes, and residual solvents taking effect on July 1; Pesticide testing had a delayed launch date but is expected to begin on August 1st.
“For quality brands and manufacturers who have already done full panel testing, this won’t be a big change for them,” says Lisa Stemmer, Marketing Director of Colorado’s only state-certified hemp testing laboratory, Botanacor Laboratories. “I could find it a bit intimidating for those new to the industry, but overall I think it’s a positive thing.
“We’re talking about having CBD as a regulated dietary supplement and food additive. I think CDPHE recognizes that at some point this will be enforced at the federal level, and now we are just one step ahead of the game. ”
Right now, Colorado has only one state-certified testing laboratory for hemp contaminants, while a second laboratory in California, InfiniteCAL, is currently awaiting approval from the CDPHE. Now that hemp can cross state lines, facilities in other states in Colorado could seek state certification, Stemmer added.
Hemp growers and business outlook pushed into a promising market in 2018 following state legalization. But this unregulated, booming market eventually led to an oversupply of goods. The new regulations could curb Colorado’s contribution to this surplus, said Stemmer.
“[Companies] are more strategic and thoughtful about their production, so they may not produce as much, but they produce much better quality, ”she says.
Jackie Chenoweth, co-founder of the Colorado Hemp Education Association, suggests that while the CBD side of the hemp industry could be slowed down, the regulations add to the versatility of the plant in making non-human goods like fabrics, paper , Plastics and fuels.
“This plant could literally save us from ourselves if it were grown and used to make thousands of everyday products,” says Chenoweth.