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The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 was signed into law this week. Among other things, this new law changes certain federal authorities relating to the production and marketing of hemp, defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.). These changes include removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it will no longer be an illegal substance under federal law.

Hemp is a type of cannabis plant with no or extremely low concentrations of the psychoactive compound known as THC, the ingredient in marijuana associated with “high” feelings. The Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing for its commercial production in the United States, as long as those plants contain no more than 0.3 percent of THC.

Congress explicitly preserved the FDAs current authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. In doing so, Congress recognized the agency’s important public health role with respect to all the products it regulates.

This allows the FDA to continue enforcing the law to protect patients and the public while also providing potential regulatory pathways for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds.

To help members of the public understand how the FDA’s requirements apply to these products, the FDA has maintained a webpage with answers to frequently asked questions, which we intend to update moving forward to address questions regarding the Agriculture Improvement Act and regulation of these products generally.

In view of the proliferation of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived substances, the FDA will advance new steps to better define its public health obligations in this area. It will also continue to closely scrutinize products that could pose risks to consumers. Where we believe consumers are being put at risk, the FDA will warn consumers and take enforcement actions.

While products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds remain subject to the FDA’s authorities and requirements, there are pathways available for those who seek to lawfully introduce these products into interstate commerce. The FDA will continue to take steps to make the pathways for the lawful marketing of these products more efficient.

These pathways include ways for companies to seek approval from the FDA to market with therapeutic claims a human or animal drug that is derived from cannabis.

The FDA intends to hold a public meeting in the near future for stakeholders to share their experiences and challenges with these products, including information and views related to the safety of such products.

A number of small companies are already selling CBD in oils, beverages, topical creams and other products, and in some instances shipping them across state lines. The market for CBD derived from hemp could reach $22 billion by 2022, according to a report issued earlier this year by the cannabis industry analysis firm the Brightfield Group, which assumed passage of the farm bill in its forecast.

Coca-Cola Co in September became one of the largest U.S. companies to express interest in CBD, saying in a statement that it was “closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world.”