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With the hemp industry exploding like a box of fireworks and more than a hundred Western Slope growers a month or so away from the first big harvest, the proverbial primate spanner in the powertrain has reared its bureaucratic head. Even though Congress and the USDA have blessed the industrial hemp sector, a typical government snafu left regulatory control over the primary boom product, CBD oil, to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA’s unwillingness/inability to move ahead with its work has stalled the widespread marketing of CBD oil as a food supplement or medicinal product.

The FDA is just now starting to work on regulations. But, major retailers of CBD, such as Walgreens, CVS, Whole Foods and others are going ahead with their plans to market a wide variety of products. This comes in the face of a major move by the FDA that has sent stern warnings to several companies telling them they are liable for false advertising. The charges have to do with the companies’ claims of the efficacy of CBD in treating some maladies.

Even the Farm Bill passed and signed last December still leaves the water muddied, because language from an earlier bill was left in the final version, confusing what should have been a cut and dried process. One of Colorado’s major hemp producers, Michael Bowman, said recently that the whole thing has gotten more complicated than anyone expected, but he is cautiously optimistic about the issues being solved.

“This genie is a long time out of the bottle, and it’s not going back,” he said.

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