Over the past several years, CBD has surpassed every emerging health trend to become the hottest thing since sliced bread. According to a recent Forbes article, Google searches for CBD-related queries have surpassed all searches for Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, the Beatles, and even Jesus.
This extreme growth spurt and attention focused on the industry has led to a complete over saturation of the CBD market. While there are many reputable CBD companies that have been committed to quality since the industry’s inception, there seems to be five times as many bad actors looking to cash in on the green rush with low-quality products sold through misleading marketing tactics.
What can the industry do about this problem?
One key challenge currently facing the CBD industry is lack of regulation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Due to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, 2019 opened with great optimism about the FDA’s development of a path for the full regulation of hemp-derived CBD. The FDA even held its first public hearing and comment period early last year in preparation for forthcoming guidelines. However, the guidelines did not come, and the FDA closed out the year with a round of warning letters sent to CBD companies making unlawful disease claims alongside commentary restating its current concerns about CBD as a food additive.
The concerns expressed were not new and additional comments made in the warning letters were not divergent from previous guidance issued by the FDA. It also is clear the FDA realizes there is a significant market for hemp and CBD products and wants time to continue investigating its concerns so that it can properly regulate such products and ensure consumer safety.
A possible first step for the FDA would be to examine the United Kingdom’s recent moves to regulate CBD in mainstream commerce. Last month, the Food Standards Agency announced plans to establish a legal pathway for CBD in food and dietary supplements, recommending a reasonable upper limit of 70mg per day for healthy adults. Likewise, the agency will require all CBD companies to undergo annual safety evaluations in order to remain on shelves.
This would be a great starting point for the American market, which currently is being undercut by unscrupulous companies producing fake or contaminated CBD products. A November 2017 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that out of eighty-four samples of CBD products purchased online, only twenty-six contained the amount of CBD advertised. Likewise, tests administered by the FDA have revealed several products with no detectable amounts of CBD at all.
Needless to say, CBD companies looking to earn a trustworthy reputation should invest in quality control and testing processes to ensure they are delivering safe and effective products. Consumers should only purchase products from companies that provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA) for every batch of product that leaves their facilities. Similarly, consumers should avoid buying from CBD companies that have received a warning letter from the FDA for violating regulations, particularly around making claims that CBD can treat, cure, or mitigate any disease or ailment.
Certifications are another great source of third-party accountability. The U.S. Hemp Authority Certification Program is the hemp industry’s initiative to provide high standards, best practices, and self-regulation, giving confidence to consumers and law enforcers that hemp products are safe and legal. The program was funded by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable and developed by a variety of industry-leading firms, top-tier testing laboratories, and quality assessors to create guidance for growers and processors of hemp.
Grace Kaucic is senior communications manager at Bluebird Botanicals, a hemp CBD manufacturer based in Louisville, Colorado. She joined the Bluebird team in 2018 and currently oversees internal and external communication strategies and execution. With a background in marketing communications, content production, and media relations, Kaucic’s responsibilities include sourcing, producing, and amplifying strategic content marketing and brand messaging across digital and traditional channels. Source: https://mgretailer.com/business/how-the-cbd-industry-can-earn-trust-while-awaiting-fda-regulation/
How to make a cannabis-infused lemony hemp shandy
Cannabis beverages are a growing trend, and it’s easy to understand why. From CBD-infused coffee to THC microdose sodas, there are seemingly endless flavors and styles that can be used to make stoney signature drinks in place of traditional cocktails.
While no one is trying to take away our precious margaritas or frosé, reducing alcohol consumption in general is increasingly popular among people of all ages. With physical and mental well-being seen top priority, cannabis drinks can satisfy the thirst for delicious beverages that provide relaxation without hangovers or added calories.
Part of the fun of cocktails is the element of craft that goes into them. Of course, the many ready-to-drink cannabis beverages can be enjoyed on their own as an alternative to alcoholic tipples, but for those who crave the ritual of mixing something unique in their home bar — or for those who want to enjoy a complex drink that equal more than the sum of its parts — these recipes are for you.
The concoctions below use a combination of pre-made infused beverages and tinctures. Any type of tincture, such as full-spectrum hemp, CBD or THC, will work, though we are partial to nano tinctures that are made specifically for beverages since they mix in easily and don’t change the flavor profile.
How to make delicious cannabis-infused cocktails
Before you start mixing, there’s a few tried-and-true tips you should have at your disposal for the best canna-cocktail experience:
- After following a recipe, periodically taste and adjust the amounts of each ingredient to create your ideal balance.
- Add your own flare: play around with garnishes to put a personalized stamp on homemade drinks. Try anything from cinnamon sticks to fresh figs.
Why lemony hemp shandy
A shandy is a cocktail that traditionally combines lemonade and beer for a refreshing drink. This updated version uses hemp infused lemonade and subs in kombucha for the beer. Kombucha is a fermented tea full of probiotics with a tangy flavor and slightly effervescent texture; it’s easy to make at home, and can also be found at most grocery stores in a variety of flavors. Virtually any flavor will work for this recipe, tasty options include lavender, citrus, mango , and even spicy flavors like ginger or cayenne.
- 6 oz infused lemonade or regular lemonade plus tincture of choice
- 6 oz Kombucha of choice
- Lemon slices
- Combine ingredients in a tall glass over ice, garnish with lemon slices.
Product we used: Kickback Hemp Infused Lemony Lemonade
Only five grams of sugar per bottle, Kickback’s Hemp Infused Lemonade feels light and fresh for an afternoon in the sun.
Photos by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
What role could Kamala Harris play in cannabis legalization as vice president?
In hindsight, Kamala Harris’ infamous 2019 radio interview with New York’s hit morning show, “The Breakfast Club,” told us everything.
During the discussion she spoke of her belief that cannabis should be legalized, the need for better research on the plant’s impact on brain development, its undeniable medical efficacy, concern about cannabis-impaired drivers, and that illegal cannabis has incarcerated too many young men of color.
This interview raised a few eyebrows when she admitted to have once smoked cannabis (“a long time ago”) which provided fodder for late night jokes. Others noted that she built a career using cannabis to put people in jail, and then joked about enjoying it herself.
One thing is certain: Kamala Harris, shaped by growing up with a Jamaican/South Asian lineage and a career shaped by the law and order world of the plant, seems comfortable talking about cannabis.
Now, she’s been tapped to be Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate in the 2020 presidential election. For many, she is the ideal running mate for Biden.
But while many believe Harris is a smart and safe choice for Biden, others, particularly those in the criminal justice and cannabis communities, are conflicted. Some view Harris’ prosecutorial past as someone simply carrying out the duties of her job while navigating the complexities of being a woman of color in law enforcement and politics. Others see her as an engaged general of the War on Drugs and a tough-on-crime prosecutor responsible for sending non-violent drug offenders to prison.
Similar to the examination of what could potentially change Biden’s views on legalization, we took a close look at Harris’ record on cannabis to try to illustrate a cautious picture of what her potential role in the future of cannabis legalization will be.
A complicated past: from “top cop” to the MORE Act
Harris’ political career began in 2004 when she was elected to be San Francisco’s district attorney. Once in office, Harris attempted to cultivate a reputation as a progressive prosecutor who was “smart on crime.” However, throughout her time as the DA, the felony conviction rate rose from 52% to 67%, and Harris became notorious for cracking down on gangs and drug dealers. At the time, Harris opposed cannabis legalization, and her office oversaw more than 1,900 cannabis convictions.
In 2011, Harris became the highest-ranking law enforcement official in California when she was elected attorney general. Preceding her victory was a contentious election that focused heavily on her refusal as a district attorney to pursue the death penalty for a man convicted of killing a police officer. This decision followed her for years and almost ruined her political career. Her precarious position entering her new role can help explain her mixed bag of both reformist policies and a pattern of upholding the status quo during her tenure as attorney general.
In 2010, Harris opposed Proposition 19, a ballot measure that would have legalized cannabis for adults over 21. For the next five years, she opposed cannabis legalization. Between the years of 2011 and 2016, at least 1,560 people were sent to prison for cannabis-related offenses, a fact that her debate opponents used against her, derailed momentum in her campaign, further confused her cannabis record, and became one of the most provocative, watchable, and dramatic moments of all the debates. In 2019, in the midst of a crowded, heated Democratic primary, Harris’ past in the criminalization of cannabis while serving as attorney general was continually put on full display.
But Harris came out in support of decriminalization in 2015 during her second term as attorney general. While this marked a significant change in her position on cannabis, she still refused to support adult-use legalization. Critics argued that her position did not go far enough, since, at the time, a handful of states already had adult-use markets, and the majority of Americans supported legalization.
In a 2017 speech, she said “While I don’t believe in legalizing all drugs, as a career prosecutor I just don’t, we need to do the smart thing, the right thing, and finally decriminalize marijuana.”
In 2016, Kamala Harris won her Senate race and became California’s first Black senator and the first South Asian American to serve in the U.S. Senate — the same election California voted to legalize adult-use cannabis.
Since she took office in 2017, Harris has generally aligned herself with the Senate’s progressive members, voting alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders 93% of the time. As a district attorney and attorney general, Harris’ role was to uphold and enforce the law. As a U.S. senator, her job duties shifted from law-enforcing to law-making.
Harris supported adult-use cannabis legalization in 2018 when she cosponsored Sen. Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, which would legalize cannabis at the federal level. The same year, Harris, along with Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding he stop blocking medical cannabis research efforts.
“Right now in this country people are being arrested, being prosecuted, and end up spending time in jail or prison all because of their use of a drug that otherwise should be considered legal,” Harris said in a 2018 press release. “Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. I know this as a former prosecutor and I know it as a senator.”
In her 2019 book, The Truths We Hold, Harris details her support for cannabis legalization and the need to expunge all non-violent cannabis-related records. She wrote “We need to expunge non-violent marijuana-related offenses from the records of the millions of people who have been arrested and incarcerated so they can get on with their lives.”
That same year, alongside Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Harris introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The MORE Act decriminalizes cannabis at the federal level, expunges cannabis-related convictions, invests resources into communities most disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization, and establishes a 5% federal cannabis tax. The bill is just beginning to move through the legislative process.
With each new role Harris occupied, from district attorney to U.S. senator, her position on cannabis evolved. Far removed from her days as a prosecutor, Harris is now a full-blown supporter of cannabis legalization and a vocal proponent of ending the failed War on Drugs. Whether her shift is the result of listening to her critics, personal growth, political opportunism, or some combination of the three, Harris’ views on cannabis reflect a major shift in her approach to criminal justice. Harris is now in touch with the vast majority of Americans who support legalization.
Not debatable: Harris vs. Pence
No analysis of Harris’ positions on cannabis would be complete without a comparison to the policy positions of her opponent. In this case, it is impossible to do an apples-to-apples comparison since incumbent Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t even consider the issue.
The former governor of Indiana is a longtime and fierce opponent of cannabis legalization and an apostle of the “pot is a gateway drug” theory. While leading the Hoosier state, Pence opposed a provision in a criminal justice reform bill that lowered the penalties for cannabis possession charges. During his time in Congress, from 2001 to 2013, he was a reliable “no” vote on any meaningful cannabis legislation.
Pence does, at times, pick peculiar and inappropriate opportunities to express his opposition to legalization. This propensity was on full display, when, at the height of contentious negotiations regarding the recent Covid-19 relief funding, he went on television and falsely stated that the Democrats bill “mentions marijuana more than it mentions jobs.”
When Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his Vice President, he chose someone who he aligned with politically but was willing to push him on issues where he has been historically weak. As someone of Jamaican and South Asian descent, a woman, and over two decades younger, Harris fills in crucial gaps that have previously been points of criticism of Biden’s candidacy.
As people contemplate Harris’ potential influence in a Biden administration, legalization advocates cannot help but wonder if she can chip away at his seemingly intractable, anti-legalization stance. Compared to President Donald Trump’s confusing and dismal cannabis policy positions, Biden, while not supporting full adult-use legalization, does champion federal decriminalization, automatic expungement of cannabis-related convictions, and medical legalization.
In the end, nobody really knows how and when Harris might launch an internal campaign to change the boss’s mind should they make it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In July, when the “veepstakes” was in full throttle, Harris indicated that she had no intention to push the candidate on cannabis legalization. But when he had the job, Biden forced the shift of the Obama administration policy on gay marriage with just one appearance on Meet the Press.
Featured image by Michael F. Hiatt/Shutterstock
Blockchain Tracing the Cannabidiol Supply Chains Will Help Define Legal Standards
Interest in cannabidiol-based products has been on the rise, as recent statistics show that the global cannabis market is expected to have reached $42.7 billion in the next four years. Yet as hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD, products gain popularity, federal agencies are proceeding with caution around regulatory measures for cannabis products.
In order to address regulatory concerns, policymakers in different regions are looking toward using blockchain technology as a solution that can provide transparency into the complex cannabis supply chain.
Ensure CBD becomes a novel food in Europe
Most recently, the Cannabinoid Association of the Netherlands, which is a consortium of Dutch cannabidiol producers that serve as an advisor to the Dutch government, announced the launch of a blockchain-based traceability tool that would enable consumers to trace certain CBD products directly back to their source.
The CAN launched its blockchain initiative to help provide clarity around the European Union’s looming decision to classify CBD as a “novel food” or not. While European food standards agencies, including the United Kingdom’s, planned to allow CBD products to be sold at certain food retailers in 2021, the European Commission revised its 2015 Novel Food Regulation to say that CBD is not legally classified as a novel food.
So, while it remains unclear how CBD-based food products will be classified in the U.K. and throughout parts of Europe, the CAN’s blockchain tracing tool could demonstrate how a CBD regulatory environment might function and thrive in the United Kingdom.
Mark Reinders, the CEO of HempFlax and a co-founder of CAN, told Cointelegraph that the CBD industry is a lucrative market that attracts a wide array of participants. But in turn, bad actors selling low quality, false or even harmful products are also involved in the cannabis industry. According to Reinders, full traceability along every step of the hemp-derived CBD supply chain is the only way to ensure product quality and consumer protection:
“Blockchain applications can help to increase supply chain transparency by efficiently and cost-effectively tracing materials between parties. The immutable nature of blockchain also helps to avoid fraud and increase trust.”
As the CBD market begins to take shape in Europe, the U.K. and other parts of the world, Reinders noted that new levels of transparency must be adopted by CBD producers worldwide to prove that cannabis products are safe and meet regulations.
Roni Furlan, the founder of the nonprofit organization Novatrace, told Cointelegraph that CAN’s free traceability tool, known as CanCheck, ensures that the CBD supply chain is traced from seed to the final product by uploading production data to a distributed ledger node. He mentioned that supply chain participants can create new material batches; perform production and manufacturing processes; add certificate and lab test documentation; and transfer and receive materials between accounts:
“When a producer submits a request to certify a new batch of product material (bulk product), Novatrace verifies that all traceability data is complete and compiles a traceability certificate. CAN checks the traceability certificate and verifies that the production and lab report data comply to the industry standard. All products (product LOTs) made from the certified material may carry the quality mark logo.”
In addition to ensuring that products comply with regulatory standards, Furlan noted that consumers can access the CanCheck tool for free at cancheck.org. Individuals can scan a QR-code on a product, flyer in a store or paste a link from an online retailer to see which products have the CAN quality mark. Each product containing the CAN quality mark can be traced and verified to show accurate levels of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the absence of contaminants and a full spectrum composition of the product.
Iris Freie, an advisor to the Dutch government on cannabinoid policy, told Cointelegraph that so far, Jacob Hooy CBD-products have been CAN certified and are fully traceable with three more brands being close to certification, noting that any producer that wishes to market its products within the Netherlands can apply for the quality mark. “We are looking for opportunities to cooperate with other associations in Europe, too, so that our industry standards may develop into European standards,” Freie remarked.
California rallies for cannabis supply chain tracing
California has also been pushing for government authorities to use blockchain technology to help define legal standards around cannabis. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as California has been ranked as one of the largest legal cannabis markets in the world. However, an NPR article notes that California’s cannabis excise tax generated only $74.2 million during the second quarter of last year, falling short of estimated projections and suggesting that the country’s largest marijuana market may be struggling to take off.
Berkeley city council member Ben Bartlett told Cointelegraph that California government officials are currently advocating to adopt a blockchain-based track-and-trace methodology to ensure accurate record-keeping, better retention of taxation and standardization for the cannabis industry.
Bartlett helped to compose a report illustrating a blockchain roadmap for California. He mentioned that the document has been sent to the California governor and legislator for consideration, noting that there is an entire section dedicated to how blockchain technology can be used to manage the cannabis supply chain. Bartlett said:
“This will help standardize the cannabis industry, as we don’t have a clear picture of seed to sale and all the elements involved. Using blockchain would ensure that we are dealing with a product that is safe and recognized by state health standards. This is also a way to professionalize the emerging cannabis market.”
While the report mentions that California policymakers should accept blockchain-based verification and reporting mechanisms for the cannabis supply chain, the document further notes that policymakers should consider “authorizing participants in the cannabis supply chain to use payment mechanisms that implement stringent industry ‘Know Your Customer’ processes but also accommodate U.S. regulatory concerns.”
According to Bartlett, the blockchain roadmap is the first recommendation of its caliber to be sent to the California governor for review. “Even though cannabis has its own allies and issues in the government, it was important to include because we see it as beneficial for the economy as a whole,” he remarked.
How will governments react?
While steps are being taken by policymakers to use blockchain for a safer, more widely accepted cannabis industry, government officials will have the final say. Bartlett noted that government responses to California’s blockchain roadmap report should be received in the spring or fall of this year. He is hopeful the recommendations will be approved in an attempt to revitalize California’s economy.
Freie thinks every government will recognize the CanCheck tool as useful. However, its success depends on the United Nation’s vote in December on whether CBD will be regarded as a narcotic or novel food. Freie finished by saying: “Ideally, an EU-wide maximum THC concentration will be implemented in the future, too. Then it will be possible to create an industry standard that is applicable across the EU.”
How to make a cannabis-infused lemony hemp shandy
What role could Kamala Harris play in cannabis legalization as vice president?
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