On December 20, 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law by President Donald Trump. Included in the law is a provision that legalizes the domestic cultivation, production, and commercial development of hemp and hemp products at the federal level.  Under these new regulations, hemp is defined as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and, therefore, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, effectively paving the way for legal hemp cultivation, production, and distribution. CBD is a phytocannabinoid derived from Cannabis sativa that is becoming increasingly well-known for its purported health benefits.

The Hemp Business Journal estimates that the U.S. hemp industry will be worth approximately $1.9 billion by 2022, much of which can be attributed to CBD. Considering the recent FDA-approval of Epidiolex, the first cannabis-derived CBD-based pharmaceutical approved by the FDA, it’s also likely that there will be an increase in phytocannabinoid-containing pharmaceuticals.

Following the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA release two key statements. The first classified three hemp-derived ingredients as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). The second specified that the phytocannabinoids THC and CBD are considered drug ingredients, and as such, are not currently permitted for use in food and supplements. Hemp industry lobbying associations, including U.S. Hemp Roundtable, are working with the FDA to issue a new regulation allowing for hemp-derived CBD to be included in food and supplements.

As a result of these announcements, what’s likely to happen is an increase in hemp-derived products industry-wide, including fabrics, food products, and cosmetics. Once the reclassification of THC and CBD, there will also likely be an explosion in phytocannabinoid-containing over-the-counter products. Until then, access to high-quality CBD-containing supplements will remain somewhat limited.

Research in this field is growing at an exponential rate, so practitioners can expect to witness significant developments this year when it comes to dosing recommendations and standard of care. For instance, a basic Pubmed search using the term “cannabidiol” reveals that nearly 200 studies were published in Q4 2018 on this topic alone, not to mention THC or the wide variety of therapeutic terpenes found in Cannabis sativa.

The future of hemp-derived CBD and its associated products is bright. At NPFS, we look forward to working with our practitioners in using the highest-quality CBD-containing products to develop optimal treatment plans for their patients.

A new era of medicine has arrived and we’re in this journey together!

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