The market for CBD products with nearly non-detectable levels of THC has exploded in recent years and is expected to exceed $22 billion by 2022. Products have popped up online, in medical marijuana dispensaries and health food stores, and at farmers markets. With the passage of the U.S. farm bill last year, which, in part, legalized industrial hemp, many experts expect the products to begin showing up on the shelves of mass retailers like WalMart and Target.
The products are touted, mostly anecdotally, for doing everything from providing relief from chronic pain and anxiety, making your skin smooth and silky, and calming down skittish pets.
“What we’re trying to do is offer some clarity,” said Andrew Brisbo, director of the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation. “We still get tons of questions about CBD products. There is a lack of understanding on the legal definitions of the plants.”
A reprieve for unlicensed dispensaries
New rules for the regulation of CBD products in Michigan could make the pain and anxiety relievers more widely available to the general public without the fear that the oils, creams, tinctures and lotions are illegal.
Until late last year, hemp and marijuana were categorized in the same way — illegal substances from a federal standpoint and highly regulated from the State of Michigan’s point of view.
Now, with guidance from the state’s licensing department, CBD products will no longer be regulated like marijuana, no matter whether the products are sourced from hemp or marijuana plants, as long as the THC concentration is below 0.3 percent. Any product with a THC level above 0.3 percent will continue to be regulated as marijuana.
The practical implications of the memo sent out by LARA:
While there are no specified limits for CBD derived from cannabis, there are limits for cannabis possession. First-time offenders in possession of more than 2.5 ounces and up to 5 ounces may be charged with a civil infraction and fined up to $500. First-time offenders in possession of more than five ounces may be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $500.
There are no possession limits for CBD derived from hemp.
All types of cannabis, including hemp strains that don’t produce enough THC to cause intoxication, were considered illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The law categorized all cannabis as Schedule 1, which defined the plant as a highly addictive substance with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
Only facilities licensed by the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR) can commercially grow, process, and sell marijuana and marijuana products, such as cannabis-derived CBD. The commerce of recreational cannabis was enacted in December 2019.
Where to buy CBD in Michigan
The 2018 Farm Bill re-classified hemp as an agricultural commodity and made its cultivation federally legal. Further, the act removed some forms of cannabis from Schedule 1 status by creating a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana. Hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, and marijuana refers to cannabis with more than 0.3% THC. This distinction in federal law effectively legalized CBD that is derived from cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, as long as it has been cultivated according to federal and state regulations.
This legislation also established a state licensing program through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) for industrial hemp growers, processors, and handlers. However, Michigan’s proposed licensing program has yet to be approved by the USDA. In the meantime, those who wish to grow, process or handle hemp must participate in Michigan’s existing Industrial Hemp Ag-Pilot Program for the 2020 growing season to meet state and federal expectations.
In addition to the federal regulation of CBD, the Farm Bill also gave states the option to regulate and prohibit the cultivation and commerce of CBD. States may regulate CBD in food, beverages, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products independently, even before the FDA finalizes its policies.
Michigan CBD possession limits
According to guidelines recently released by Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, CBD products produced from marijuana will not be regulated as marijuana if the THC content is below 0.3%. Products derived from industrial hemp with a THC concentration above 0.3% are classified as marijuana and regulated under the laws that apply to those products through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Michigan consumers can purchase hemp-derived CBD products from CBD-specific stores and health shops. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps