Why it’s time for the legalized hemp and cannabis industries to stop pretending they can rely on President Trump

Since the Food and Drug Administration’s much-touted hearing on CBD and hemp last year and the media hoopla that followed the parade of industry insiders that spoke at the event, cannabidiol proponents have been stuck in a state of perpetual limbo, caught between their desire to share what many believe are the magical benefits of everyone’s second-favorite cannabinoid and the ongoing fear that doing so will result in a warning letter from the feds.

But rather than hammer out a set of much-needed regulations for the overzealous CBD industry, the FDA decided to take a wait-and-see approach, relying instead on the aforementioned warning letters to keep any companies that over-promised and under-delivered from stepping out of bounds. Throughout the past year, the warning letters have racked up, with the FDA forced to go into overdrive thanks to COVID-19.

It’s become a cliché game of cat-and-mouse in the industry, as brands promise that their products can cure or prevent everything from the common cold to cancer, opioid addiction, and now, the novel coronavirus. For every warning letter the FDA sends out, five new claims seem to appear. 

The FDA’s lackluster response to the need for regulations has also created a backlog in the courts. Several consumer class-action lawsuits have been placed on hold, the most recent one just this week in California against Global Widget LLC, the parent company of Hemp Bombs, as federal judges claim they need more regulatory guidance. In each case, the CBD company is accused of mislabeling their products to show they have more cannabidiol falsely then they actually do. 

Desperate for assistance, seven hemp organizations wrote to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, asking him to resolve the issue.

“There are still market uncertainties for our nascent industry, and it is critical to open end markets for crops,” the hemp organizations wrote to Trump, according to an article in Natural Products Insider. “The administration could play a crucial role by resolving the regulatory barrier created by FDA that has prevented FDA from recognizing cannabidiol (CBD) as a legitimate botanical ingredient for use in food and dietary supplement products.”

But is it time for the cannabis and hemp industries to give up on President Trump?

For years, activists and industry insiders have searched for a sign that portends the Commander-in-Chief’s move towards nationals legalization, only to come up with less than nothing. First, it was his supposed embrace of the STATES Act, the legislative bill to allow state-level marijuana businesses access to the country’s banking system that was going to signify his embrace of the movement. Then legalization was going to be his secret weapon to defeat Joe Biden that never materialized.

When all else failed, for no other reason, some believed that he would simply change his mind. “Thus, there is every logical reason to expect that Trump or someone on his team will grasp the obvious—or at least read the poll numbers, which indicate that a wide majority of Americans think marijuana should be legal... ‘Donald Trump supports marijuana legalization’ is a headline you will likely read sometime in the next year,” wrote the Observer, ominously last year.

To be fair, Donald Trump did sign the bill that legalized hemp, but that’s all he did. Since the downfall of the tobacco industry, states like Mitch McConnell’s hometown of Kentucky have needed a new crop to sustain them. And true believers should take note that Trump, McConnell, and company did nothing to clear up the rules on CBD when they legalized hemp.

Hemp production has soared since the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, going from 25,000 acres to over 500,000 acres in just over two years. But Donald Trump has done nothing to help regulate a CBD industry that so desperately needs it. And he’s done everything he can to stile the progress of legalized cannabis.

It’s time for the legalized hemp and cannabis industries to stop pretending they can rely on President Trump.

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