Recent events signal the need for CBD manufacturers to have a clear game plan to address legal uncertainty and confusion by law enforcement and prosecutors. New York prosecutors recently dropped felony marijuana possession charges against a New York-based CBD manufacturer. The manufacturer was arrested in November for allegedly receiving 106 pounds of marijuana. However, the shipment contained hemp plants. Notably concerning, the shipment included documents verifying that the hemp contained 0.06% THC, which is lower than the 0.3% threshold set forth by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). Of note, any cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 % THC would be considered non-hemp cannabis under federal law and would thus face no legal protection under the 2018 Farm Bill.
Law enforcement’s wrongful seizure demonstrates a lack of knowledge and understanding of CBD, which may lead to business interruption and financial loss. Stakeholders should make sure they have a Plan of Action to address wrongful seizure and surrounding criminal issues, as well as appropriate commercial insurance coverage to mitigate the economic risks.
New York is clearly making efforts to address uncertainty through legislation. New York Governor Cuomo signed a comprehensive hemp bill this month that allows and sets up a regulatory framework for the growth, sale, distribution, transportation, and processing of industrial hemp and hemp extracts including CBD in the state. Stakeholders should understand the contours of this new law.
Regulation of hemp and its derivative products remains mired in a jumble of conflicting state and federal law. Stakeholders, ranging from manufacturers to retailers, must remain compliant. If your company handles hemp and its derivatives, contact Frier Levitt today to speak to an attorney.
On December 9, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that impacts the state’s cannabidiol (CBD) businesses. The law establishes a regulatory framework for the growth, sale, distribution, transportation, and processing of industrial hemp and hemp extracts, including CBD, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. The law establishes licensing, good manufacturing practice standards, testing, and labeling requirements for the industry. Governor Cuomo also announced that New York State will host a hemp summit in January 2020 to further develop industry policies.
Under the law, retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and extractors of products derived from hemp extract – including CBD – must apply for a license from the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets. The Department will establish regulations governing this process as well as regulations covering the labeling and advertising of such products.
In addition, among other requirements, hemp extract products must be sold or delivered in containers with labels as may be required by the state, must be extracted and manufactured in accordance with good manufacturing processes pursuant to FDA good manufacturing practices, and every cannabinoid manufacturer and extractor must contract with an independent laboratory to test their hemp extract products.
While countless businesses await legal clarity regarding their ability to add CBD to foods, drinks, and dietary supplements, the New York law defers decision-making on this issue until a later date. The State appears to be waiting to see whether the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes regulations allowing for the marketing of CBD in foods and beverages and likely will follow FDA’s lead at that time.
Federal and state laws regarding hemp, CBD, and other cannabis-derived products are rapidly evolving and there are many potential pitfalls for operating in these markets without a thorough understanding of the complex regulatory environment. If you need assistance navigating the regulatory environment for hemp, CBD or other cannabis-derived products, contact Frier Levitt today to speak with an attorney.
Six class action lawsuits have been filed against cannabidiol (CBD) manufacturers immediately following the November 25, 2019 warning letters issued by the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA). These warning letters were sent to 15 companies for selling products containing CBD. The FDA maintains that food and dietary supplements are not allowed, under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), to contain any level of CBD. The FD&C Act makes it clear that any product intended to treat a disease or otherwise have a therapeutic or medical use, and any product (other than food) that is intended to affect the structure or function of the body of humans or animals, is a drug. The FDA has not approved any CBD products other than Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. The FDA has sent numerous warning letters to companies that sell CBD products in interstate commerce that claimed to prevent, diagnose, mitigate, treat or cure serious diseases. However, the FDA has not launched a judicial action against a CBD manufacturer.
The class action lawsuits are identical to each other and each complaint mimics the FDA’s concerns over illegal sale of the CBD products. Four cases, DaSilva v. Infinite Product Co. LLC, Davis v. Green Roads of Florida, LLC, McCarthy v. Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc., and Colettev. CV Sciences, Inc., alleging that the manufacturers’ CBD products were mislabeled as dietary supplements. Two cases, McCarthy v. Elixinol, LLC, and Fausett v. KOI CBD, LLC, note that the defendants sold CBD products as dietary supplements as well as animal foods. KOI CBD, LLC is among the 15 companies that received the most recent FDA warning letters. Prior to these lawsuits, there have been several lawsuits that have been filed against CBD manufacturers including a shareholder class action lawsuit filed against Curaleaf Inc. when the company’s stock fell abruptly after it received a warning letter from the FDA.
The recent lawsuits suggest a new wave of litigation in the CBD industry given that the FD&C Act does not provide for a private right of action under which members of the public can commence a civil action to enforce the FD&C Act. The putative classes assert, instead of arguing that the use of CBD in products violates the FD&C Act, that the CBD products are mislabeled and falsely advertised under state consumer protection laws. More specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants manufactured and sold CBD products in violation of California and Arizona state laws including, but not limited to, California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act.
Many future lawsuits are expected to focus on allegations of mislabeling, accusing the companies of falsely representing the CBD content of their products. The lawsuits will likely involve not only the manufacturers but also other stakeholders in the supply chain including extraction and remediation companies. CBD stakeholders should prepare for the possibility of litigation and actively seek to mitigate the risks of unwanted attention by FDA or civil lawsuits. It is likely that more issues will surface given the ever-evolving regulations in the CBD industry. Frier Levitt helps CBD companies and manufacturers navigate complex issues, including many services based on flat fees. Contact Frier Levitt today to speak to an attorney.