• As previously reported in this blog, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp – defined as Cannabis sativa L. with less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis – from the definition of “marihuana”. The 2018 Farm Bill also assigned responsibility for regulating the manufacture of hemp to the states under plans approved by USDA or by USDA itself. As reported on the Marijuana Moment website here, on Wednesday, in a hearing regarding The State of The Rural Economy with the House Agriculture Committee, Sonny Purdue, Secretary of USDA, announced that he thinks the USDA rules will be in place in late 2019 – in time for the 2020 growing season. He noted that regulation will be further complicated by hemp’s “relationship to other crops that [USDA is] not encouraging.” On February 27, USDA announced a webinar regarding hemp.
  • We have also reported on FDA’s continuing opposition to the inclusion of cannabis extracts in food or dietary supplements. As widely reported, included by CNBC in a February 28 hearing with the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced he is putting together a working group to develop rules that would permit the use of certain extracts from hemp in food or dietary supplements. According to Commissioner Gottlieb, FDA is planning a public hearing in April.
  • In tech news, researchers in California have developed modified yeast with genes that create enzymes that essentially brew cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. Not only could such a method reduce the environmental burden of producing cannabinoids, it would also permit manufacturers to manufacture cannabinoids of extremely high purity for use in pharmaceuticals. See the engadget, Wired, and Nature articles for more information.