Apr. 15—CONCORD — Another year will likely pass before New Hampshire regulates the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) that's widely on the market here in hair salons, vape shops, health and wellness and even pet stores.
CBD is contained in a variety of products ranging from tinctures to oils and creams used to treat conditions from seizures and chronic pain to insomnia and anxiety.
Last week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved, by voice vote, a bill (HB 272) to set standards for the manufacture of CBD from hemp that arises from the Cannabis sativa plant.
But State Rep. Jerry Knirk, D-Freedom, told the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this week that this bill that he and other advocates had worked on for two years wasn't ready for prime time.
That's because the House had just passed a two-year, $13.5 billion state budget that didn't contain the estimated $485,000 needed to set up a state regulatory regime for CDB manufacture starting in 2022.
The House spending plan also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to cut spending by $50 million over the next two years while eliminating vacant jobs to save another $23 million.
"There is no way that DHHS can fund this," Knirk said. "It cannot be set up as it's currently going."
Last Wednesday, the Senate panel voted unanimously to recommend that this bill be re-referred to its committee.
Once the Senate endorses that move, likely next week, the bill will get sent back to the committee where it will remain until it's reported out late this fall for some action the Senate should take early on in the 2022 session.
CBD vs. marijuana
While coming from the same source, marijuana is different from CBD. CBD is a single compound in the cannabis plant, and marijuana is a type of cannabis plant or plant material that contains many naturally occurring compounds, including CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol concentration (THC), the latter producing the high associated with pot use.
The federal Food and Drug Administration has oversight over the sale of CBD products; most of those for sale in New Hampshire come from Vermont, a state that has a "robust" hemp-growing market for CBD, Knirk said.
This bill permits fees from hemp growers to subsidize the program.
Reps. Peter Bixby, D-Dover, and Howard Pearl, R-Loudon, led a study committee that examined how to create a fertile new market for farmers by regulating CBD products that come from New Hampshire-made hemp.
"There are only about 12 people in the state growing hemp for CBD under FDA approval; that's not enough to sustain a state market," Bixby said.
The New Hampshire regulation is needed to crack down on CBD products that don't meet quality standards, Knirk said.
"Without a clear regulatory pathway in place, tainted products will continue to enter into the marketplace," Knirk said.
This bill would limit how much THC could be in New Hampshire-made hemp made for CBD products.
It would require all products sold here to advise consumers to avoid using CBD products during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
The labeling must also note there is no FDA approval of CBD for children, except by prescription for severe seizure disorder.
Half of the states allow CBD food products
Colleen Smith, HHS administrator of its food protection section, said her agency opposed the bill as written because the bill would allow CBD in foods and that has not been studied thoroughly.
It's currently illegal under federal law to market CBD by adding it to food and labeling it as a dietary supplement.
Nearly half of U.S. states, however, currently allow the sale of hemp and CBD food products, including large states such as Florida, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia.
Knirk, a retired, orthopedic surgeon, said he had opposed allowing CBD sales for food in New Hampshire, but the rest of his colleagues working on the bill wanted this provision.
Federal officials have been working for years on further CBD regulations and those could be in conflict with this bill, Smith sad.
Kyle Turk, director of government affairs with the National Products Association, said 3,000 products have come to market without any federally-approved regulation in the past three years.
"This legislation is desperately needed not just in New Hampshire but across the country," Turk said.
Rep. Pearl said once the financing is obtained, the bill could be passed next year.
"The concept itself has been very well vetted," he said.
No one spoke against the House-passed bill.