On May 11, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) issued an advisory bulletin on hemp and cannabidiol (“CBD”) that raised concerns in the industry. Specifically, the implication of the guidance was that CBD would be regulated under the same strict requirements for medical marijuana.
Hemp is not marijuana, and hemp-derived CBD is not medical marijuana. Accordingly, the Roundtable reached out to LARA, and our General Counsel, Jonathan Miller, just returned from a very productive trip to Lansing. Jonathan met with LARA’s leadership, as well as with senior officials of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and leaders of both parties in the Michigan legislature. He reports back:
- There is a strong consensus among the political leadership that the legislature should pass a bill this year (likely after the election in November) that would clarify that hemp-derived CBD is legal for retail sale. Indeed, we have encountered no organized opposition to the idea.
- Agency officials at LARA and MDARD support the development of separate regulatory schemes for hemp-derived CBD and medical marijuana.
- There is interest among these agency officials to develop regulatory safeguards such as those recently passed in Indiana – including independent THC testing requirements and potentially QR codes on labels. These same officials expressed enthusiasm that the Roundtable is leading efforts to create a self-regulated organization (SRO) for the industry to provide assistance to overworked agency officials in providing strong standards and best practices for the industry.
- For the present time, LARA has told us that they do not exercise jurisdiction over hemp sold outside of marijuana dispensaries. LARA will not be coming to grocery and natural foods stores to inspect or seize CBD products. LARA can’t control what local or state police will do, but they promised to be helpful in clarifying issues if they arise.
- We, of course, cannot make any blanket assurances that there will be no local or state law enforcement actions taken. But it is clear that there is a not-too-distant light at the end of the tunnel: leading state policymakers understand the difference between hemp and marijuana now, and want Michigan law to reflect that.
A big thanks to the following companies that are sponsoring the Michigan advocacy efforts: American Shaman, Bluebird Botanicals, CV Sciences, CW Hemp, Elixinol, Healthy Hemp Oil, Isodiol, MHR Brands, and Zilis.