While every year since 2014 has been crazier for the CBD industry than the last, 2019 year may end up being considered the tipping point in the history of CBD. Everywhere you look, battle lines are being drawn, and it’s abundantly clear that the proponents of CBD are winning. To give you an idea of just how important this year is shaping up to be for the future of the cannabidiol industry, here are seven of 2019’s craziest CBD stories.
1. CBD Is Becoming More Legal Around the Country
In 2018, Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill), which officially removed CBD from the DEA’s definition of marijuana. Now that CBD is no longer considered to be an illegal drug, a variety of states that previously took hardline stances on CBD are starting to relax their stances.
Kansas, for instance, which previously made it practically impossible for its residents to access CBD, recently passed the Senate Substitute to House Bill 2167, which mirrors federal CBD law by making sale and possession of CBD with less than 0.3% THC legal statewide.
Additionally, the Texas state legislature just passed House Bill 1325, and this measure was signed by Governor Greg Abbott. Like other pieces of legislation based on the U.S. Hemp Roundtable’s Model’s State Act, this new Texas law provides redundant legal protections for CBD and makes it legal to sell and possess CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC.
Lastly, Florida has also jumped on the CBD bandwagon by ratifying Senate Bill 1020, which fully legalizes the sale of hemp-derived CBD throughout the state. Importantly, SB1020 also greatly expands Florida’s hemp cultivation program, which provides hemp farmers in the state with greater opportunities and legal protections.
Slowly but surely, the states that have fully legalized CBD are starting to outnumber those that still have backward perspectives on this non-psychoactive cannabinoid. While it might be a while until hardline states like Idaho and Alabama accept that CBD isn’t an illegal drug, these holdouts will soon constitute a small minority surrounded by state legislatures unified by their acceptance of the economic and medical potential of CBD.
2. The TSA Has Given the Green Light to Travelers Carrying CBD
As with all things CBD, don’t hold your breath, but it appears that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has now made it possible to fly with CBD without worrying about prosecution. In May, the TSA suddenly updated its stance on “medical marijuana” products by saying that it’s now acceptable to bring CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC through security checkpoints.
There’s a lot about this change that’s still unclear. Does the TSA intend to educate all its employees about the differences between THC oil, full-spectrum CBD oil, and CBD isolate? Is this policy change a blanket guarantee that you won’t be detained or prosecuted for trying to bring CBD on a plane? While the TSA’s new policy might not provide you any assurances on your day of travel, it does provide you with an ironclad legal argument if you end up getting arrested for trying to bring a CBD product on a plane.
The TSA cites the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill as its rationale for changing its stance on CBD. That makes sense; why continue to make it impermissible to bring a substance on a plane that the federal government has already ruled isn’t illegal? While individual TSA agents might continue to give you a hard time if you try to bring CBD with you the next time you travel, just remember that the TSA as a government organization is on your side.
3. The FDA’s Public Hearing Kicked the Can Down the Road
On the last day of May, the FDA held a public hearing on CBD. The purpose of this hearing was to get an idea of the dominant perspectives on CBD from industry stakeholders, and in that regard, the hearing didn’t disappoint.
Throughout the course of the all-day hearing, the FDA heard from everyone from staunch CBD advocates to individuals who were concerned about kids having access to marijuana. While the primary purpose of the hearing was to gain boots-on-the-ground perspectives on the future course of the CBD industry, the FDA officials who facilitated the hearing let slip a few interesting tidbits that may indicate this agency’s upcoming plans for CBD.
In reference to the FDA’s controversial perspective that edible CBD products are still illegal despite the 2018 Farm Bill, Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless indicated that his agency’s general policy is to keep drugs from entering the food supply for “important reasons.” Sharpless went on to explain that some of these reasons included the necessity of determining safe doses and formulations of such substances.
While this comment might not seem significant on its own, it indicates that the FDA’s current working perspective on CBD is that it is a drug. Ever since the May 31st hearing, the CBD world has been abuzz with speculation on what Sharpless’ stated perspective might mean, but for now, it’s safe to say that the FDA doesn’t plan on enacting midnight raids to capture all the CBD edibles at large in the country. It’s possible, however, that this offhand comment might indicate that the FDA plans to classify CBD as a prescription drug.
4. The USDA Is Working Hard to Keep up with the 2018 Farm Bill
Once Congress decides on the contents of a law, it’s up to a variety of local, state, and federal organizations to implement these mandated legislative changes. In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a document detailing its efforts to update its policies in pursuance of the 2018 Farm Bill. According to this release, the USDA has directed one of its sub-agencies, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), to normalize domestic hemp production before the 2020 planting season.
It’s clear that the federal government has become keenly aware of the economic potential of hemp agriculture for U.S. farmers, and it’s doing everything in its power to make it easier for the agricultural industry to make money by raising hemp. This story is yet another example of how hemp and CBD, which were once fringe, drug-related substances, are rapidly making their way into the mainstream of American culture.
5. The CBD Industry Will Be Worth $20 Billion by 2024
According to a recent article in Forbes, the CBD industry could contribute more than $20 billion per year to the U.S. economy by 2024. For an industry that was worth less than $1 billion per year five years ago, this estimate indicates that the popularity of CBD will enjoy explosive growth in the years ahead.
There’s a lot that financial predictions like these can’t foresee. If the FDA takes drastic action in regulating CBD, for instance, the growth of this industry could fail to meet expectations. If CBD continues to gain popularity at rates that defy predictions, however, the industry could be worth considerably more than $20 billion per year by 2024. All we know for certain is that the next 18 months or so will be critical in determining the path the domestic CBD industry will follow for the foreseeable future.
6. Major Retailers Are Now Selling CBD
You won’t believe who’s in the CBD game these days. While the recent Carl’s Jr. “CBD burger” was nothing more than a short-lived stunt, CBD is coming to the shelves of some of the most mainstream retailers in the nation, and it’ll be there to stay.
The massive American drug store chain CVS was the first big player to lead the charge in making CBD a mainstream, over-the-counter product. In March, CVS announced its plans to roll out CBD products in 800 of its stores, which is a move that clearly indicates this major retailer’s nonchalant attitude toward potential FDA regulation. What’s more, Midwest supermarket giant Kroger announced in June that it’s planning to carry CBD in 945 stores.
7. Polling Shows that Public Acceptance of CBD Is Rising
In June, Gallup conducted a poll to determine the current popularity of CBD. Participants were asked whether CBD should be offered over-the-counter or sold as a prescription drug, and a whopping 39% of respondents stated that CBD should be freely available on shelves and websites across America.
While 39% might not seem like a lot, keep in mind that 36% of participants in this poll had no idea what CBD was. For contrast, only 21% of participants stated that CBD should be a prescription medication. Out of the respondents who knew what CBD was, therefore, those who thought CBD should be over-the-counter outnumbered the prescription drug contingent by nearly two to one.
If government agencies needed any more proof that attempting to funnel the CBD industry into a prescription drug structure was bound to fail, this Gallup poll provided all the evidence needed. Public opinion is firmly against the idea of selling CBD as a prescription drug, and as more Americans tune into the benefits of CBD, it’s only natural to want the freedom to access this potent healing substance with as little government overreach as possible.
Most intriguingly, this poll also revealed that Americans who are aware of CBD believe that this substance has significant benefits. Out of the 39% of respondents who were well-educated on CBD, 33% indicated that they believe CBD has “a lot of benefits,” and 45% of respondents said that they think CBD has “some benefits.” Altogether, therefore, 78% of the poll participants who were aware of CBD thought that it was beneficial, which just goes to show that the benefits of this cannabinoid speak for themselves.
Best CBD Stories of 2019: The Bottom Line
The year is already more than halfway over, but there’s still a lot of ways the world of CBD might change in 2019. CBD is shaping up to be as common in drug stores and supermarkets as echinacea and vitamin C, and while further FDA action on CBD is likely still years away, the CBD industry could transform overnight if this government agency suddenly decides it knows how to deal with the cannabidiol phenomenon. As fascinating CBD stories continue to emerge in 2019, count on CBGenius to keep you updated on this cannabinoid’s rapidly shifting status around the globe.