Colorado nears formalization of hemp laws as a meals ingredient
With a stroke of a pen, hemp can be treated like any other food ingredient under Colorado law.
A bill is on its way to Governor John Hickenlooper to apply existing food manufacturing guidelines to products such as coffee enriched with hemp oil and CBD-rich extracts from the non-psychoactive cannabis plant variety.
In its simplest form, House Bill 1295 – which unanimously passed the Colorado Senate on Wednesday – only codifies a government policy and program that has been in force since July. In a broader context, Colorado's tightening of regulations is a novel step in protecting the state's emerging industrial hemp industry as the legality of the facility is discussed at the federal level.
Some companies in Colorado that manufacture industrial hemp products did not see the bureaucratic burden as a burden.
"Nationally, we just don't have a regulatory structure," said Andrew Aamot, co-founder of Strava Craft Coffee, a Denver-based coffee house that launched a range of hemp oil-enriched beans and brews. "On my way to greater acceptance at the national level, I think Colorado companies are in a unique position to do things right from the start."
Raw Yirgacheffe Grade 1, a natural Ethiopian coffee bean from Strava Craft Coffee, a manufacturer of CBD-rich hemp oil coffee, a licensed manufacturer of hemp products. April 24, 2018 Denver, CO (Photo by Joe Amon / The Denver Post)
Operating under the supervision of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Aamot said Strava should be able to increase its transparency, security, and credibility with customers.
According to the state, 94 companies have registered as hemp producers as of last week as part of the guideline for the production of industrial hemp foods introduced last July.
Colorado agencies, through CDPHE, have interpreted Colorado's hemp laws from 2013 to enable the manufacture and distribution of hemp foods for consumer purchase and consumption.
"However, that wasn't strictly required by law," said Garrett O. Graff, a lawyer with Hoban Law Group, a Denver-based cannabis law firm that represents hemp industrial companies.
The provisions of HB-1295 codified existing policies and then went a step further by doubling security measures. The provisions of the law contain a language that prohibits a company using an FDA-approved drug from preventing or restricting the production, sale, or distribution of naturally occurring CBD extracts.
The admonition comes when the CBD drug Epidiolex gets on the road to success and becomes the first plant-derived cannabinoid pharmaceutical to receive approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration.
GW Pharmaceuticals medicine for rare forms of epilepsy has fueled the fear of manufacturers of CBD-rich extracts from marijuana and hemp. When the FDA approves Epidiolex and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration redefines the formulation or active ingredient of CBD, there is concern among some in the cannabis industry that GW may have a powerful ally in the federal government to eradicate the craft market.
HB-1187 contained similarly formulated provisions that allowed the prescription of FDA-approved CBD drugs. This law was also passed by the legislature this week.
The HB-1295 premise has been in operation for two years, but hemp attorneys initially met with opposition from government regulators. State officials feared that incorporating language into the Colorado Pure Food and Medicines Act, which reflects the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, could jeopardize federal funding and put Colorado and its businesses at greater risk of government interference.