Nearly six months have passed since the 2018 Farm Bill was
enacted on December 20, 2018, but the road to developing a successful business
in the hemp industry is still filled with roadblocks.
Some of these obstacles are becoming easier to navigate, but
we’re still a long way from a free and open hemp market, particularly as it
relates to CBD products.
The reality of the hemp market nearly six months after the
2018 Farm Bill was enacted is there are states, government agencies, banks, and
law enforcement groups that are either intentionally or unintentionally
stopping hemp and hemp-related businesses from operating and growing freely.
The 2018 Farm Bill allows the FDA to make its own rules
related to hemp used in food and drug products. At this point, the FDA does not
allow CBD products to be promoted using any type of health claim. In addition,
the FDA says CBD products are not dietary supplements but rather, they are
drugs that require approval under the U.S. Food, Drugs and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).
Bottom-line, the FDA
is enforcing its hemp rules, which say any hemp/CBD products that
claim to deliver therapeutic effects are drugs that must be approved by the
FDA. Furthermore, the FDA says food and dietary supplements containing hemp/CBD
cannot be introduced into interstate commerce.
Either way you look at it – food/dietary supplement or drug
– the FDA makes it nearly impossible for CBD companies to legally sell their
This month, the USDA released a legal opinion related to
hemp production in order to clear up confusion about interstate transportation
of hemp and who can get a hemp production license based on the 2018 Farm Bill.
The legal opinion from the USDA’s Office of the General
Counsel (OGC) concluded:
While the USDA has clarified its stance on some issues
related to the hemp industry, it hasn’t removed all of the roadblocks, nor does
it have the authority to do so. However, it does appear that the USDA is trying
to make it easier for hemp companies to do business.
Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Google, other
social media sites, and digital ad networks make it extremely difficult, if not
impossible, for hemp and hemp-related businesses to advertise on their
Considering that Facebook, Instagram, and Google offer some
of the most affordable advertising options for businesses of all sizes, these
policies negatively affect the hemp industry and business growth.
Specifically, Facebook (including Instagram) prohibits the
marketing and promotion of industrial hemp – a policy that Colleen
Keahey Lanier, Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association says
is, “restricted to outdated policies that continue to conflate hemp with
marijuana. Not all of Cannabis is considered a drug, and Facebook’s new AI
technology if it continues to recognize images of Cannabis as a controlled
Just because hemp is legal at the federal level doesn’t mean
it’s legal in every state. In fact, each
state can create its own regulations, which creates a fractured (and
confusing) marketplace for both businesses and consumers.
That’s a lesson a 69-year old great grandmother learned the
hard way in April when she was arrested
for carrying CBD oil into Walt Disney World.
On the other hand, the Transportation Security
Administration (TSA) changed its policy in May and now allows people to bring some
hemp-derived CBD products on planes.
Despite the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, many banks
are still not willing to work with hemp businesses. In April, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent letters
to four key financial regulators asking them to clarify banking rules for hemp
The letters were sent to the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the
Federal Reserve System, and the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) asking for
better access to bank accounts, loans, credit, capital, and more, so more people
can start and grow their hemp businesses.
This month, the Hemp Industries Association (in partnership
with Bluebird Botanicals, Hoban Law Group, and Bish Enterprises) launched a new
“Hemp is Legal”
campaign nationally with a focus on changing Facebook’s advertising policy for
businesses directly or indirectly involved in the hemp industry.
The Hemp Industries Association says Facebook’s policy
exceeds what is required by law and is having a significant negative effect on
hemp businesses that are trying to build digital footprints.
The campaign includes a digital ad in New York City’s Times
Square that says “Facebook: Stop Censoring Hemp” and will run daily until
August 24, 2019. The Hemp Industries Association is also asking supporters to
sign a petition
to stop hemp censorship.
Clearly, there are many roadblocks in the hemp industry that
won’t be removed in the near future, but other obstacles could disappear if
businesses, advocates, and organizations continue to put pressure on the right
agencies and people.
In addition, continued scientific research that proves the
benefits of CBD will help open doors. Already, research has concluded that CBD
can be used to treat seizures related to pediatric epilepsy, and a
more recent study found that CBD
can help reduce cravings in people with opioid addictions.
However, at this point, we’re six months into the legal hemp
market, and it looks like it will take another six months – and more – to
remove most of the bumps that are preventing many businesses from thriving.
Susan Gunelius is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc. (KeySplashCreative.com), a marketing communications company established in 2008 offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and SEO services. Susan has been working with clients in the cannabis industry since 2015. She spent the first half of her 27-year marketing career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as businesses of all sizes around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, and The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. She is also a Certified Career and Business Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business (WomenOnBusiness.com), an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
ONE year on from the formal recognition of the potential for cannabis as a medicine almost 200 global advocacy and civil society groups are backing for calls for greater transparency over emerging new cannabis guidelines. On December 2, last year the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) rescheduled cannabis recognising its medical properties for…
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance to suspend the city’s Cannabis Business Tax through the end of next year, in an attempt to curb illegal marijuana sales. According to Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the legislation’s author, suspending the city business tax through Dec. 31, 2022, would help support legal…
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Wednesday that federal law prohibiting cash-only cannabis businesses from using banks must be changed. Despite recreational marijuana being legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, it is still classified as a Schedule I narcotic under federal law. Banks that provide services to cannabis companies —…
After years of partisan squabbling over the fate of Florida’s medical marijuana program, Democrats and Republicans are coming together to push what they’re calling a major reform bill. It could make it a lot harder for Floridians to get their hands on delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products. Those smokable and edible products have been part of…