It’s the time of year where we make resolutions for and predictions about our next spin around the Sun. As my wife will attest, I’m not keen on making New Year’s resolutions. However, given the rapidly developing hemp and CBD industry, I think it’s worthwhile to make a few predictions for 2018.
My first prediction is that GW Pharmaceuticals will obtain FDA approval for its CBD medication, Epidiolex. To be clear, I don’t represent GW Pharmaceuticals, nor do I have an inside track on any information that isn’t available to the public. However, given that it has completed its test trials and the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a very favorable preliminary report on CBD’s safety, lack of abuse potential, and efficacy for treating a number of health issues, it is highly likely that Epidiolex will be approved this year. The bigger question is whether the FDA will then restrict CBD isolate from being used to enrich products. I do not have a prediction on that issue. How the FDA will choose to act once Epidiolex is approved is anyone’s guess at this point, but I certainly hope that it does not choose to restrict CBD isolate. The findings in the WHO report provide ample reasons for the FDA not to do so.
My second prediction is that HR 3530 (Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017) will be passed as an attachment to the 2018 Farm Bill. HR 3530 is a bill, “To amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes.” Introduced by Representative Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, HR 3530 is a short bill that is important for several purposes. Most importantly, it explicitly removes industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act (the 2014 Farm Act did this, too, but HR 3530 is clearer and more direct). It also clarifies that a retailer or end user of a hemp product does not have to report to the DEA. And, it creates a new category called “research hemp” for industrial hemp with THC concentrations between 0.3% and 0.6%. HR 3530 has lots of support and would likely pass on its own. The reason that it is likely to be passed as an attachment is that the 2018 Farm Bill is a “must pass” piece of legislation and it makes sense for it to include industrial hemp provisions. My guess is that passage of HR 3530 will further open banking services to the hemp industry, but that remains to be seen. Given the starts and stops we’ve seen in the hemp/CBD banking sector I’m not making any predictions on that front.
My third prediction is that the boom in hemp products for personal use will continue, including hemp/CBD oil tinctures, vape cartridges, lotions, other topical products, and hemp cigarettes, which are already popular in several European countries. The hemp industry as it pertains to personal care products began to “hit its stride” in 2017. It now has sufficient momentum and support to reach most US households in 2018. So, hold on. The ride is just beginning.
Happy New Year. Here’s to a great year for hemp and CBD in 2018.
This article was originally published in the Cannabis Law Report, December 29, 2017. Thanks to Sean Hocking, John Taylor, and the entire CLR group for their excellent journalism about the cannabis industry.