Hemp’s role in America’s economy and society as a whole has been something of an ebb and flow. By the late 19th and early 20th century hemp had built a reputations as a robust natural fibre with multiple uses. As a matter of fact, hemp fibers were widely used during WWII in uniforms, parachutes, tents, and other military gear. With the close of WWII in 1945 hemp’s position as an agricultural commodity would largely vanish. It would take over half a century for hemp to re-emerge into the public discourse as a valuable natural fiber. Just recently hemp was effectively legalized for industrial cultivation by the 2019 Farm Bill. But, skepticism is still existent within the U.S. government — particularily the FDA.
As of March 5th, 2020, the FDA’s stance on hemp remains largely uncertain. Commenting on products with cannabis-derived compounds, “The FDA is working to answer questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularily CBD.” Currently, the FDA has granted approval to only one CBD-derived product, a prescription drug used to treat specific forms of epilepsy.
Although CBD has received FDA approval as a treatment in this case, the FDA remains uncertain as to the health effects of CBD in general. In addition, marketing any CBD-infused food products or CBD products as ‘dietary supplements’ is currently illegal according to FDA rulings. Since hemp is an integral ingredient in CBD products it’s legal position is still quite shaky.
For hemp products to enjoy the benefits of full legalization they will need to undergo further testing and earn the ever so valuable stamp of FDA approval. Until then hemp will remain in a gray area as will the cannabis industry as a whole. Unfortunately, the timetable for FDA approval is unknown. All we can do is wait and see where the government will fall on this issue.
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