Cannabis – The Wild, Wild West

May 15, 2019

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This is Rick Frank sitting in for John Block. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

Drive a quarter of a mile in any direction while in San Diego and you will see a largebillboard shouting, “Aches and Pains – Cannabis Delivered to your Door.” These pot billboards are visible for all to see. Medical and recreational cannabis have now been approved in a total of 34 sates. I support decriminalization of pot and, for the most part, legalization. But, I am concerned about stoned drivers on the road and the overly permissive message we are sending to our kids.

The recent Farm Bill provision legalizing hemp and establishing programs for its growth and sale could make matters worse. Marijuana and hemp are from the same plant. Hemp may have a maximum of .3% THC, the substance that gets you high, to qualify under the Farm Bill. While the definition of hemp significantly limits the amount of cannabinoids and THC which are permitted, it will be very difficult to fully regulate this provision.

Questions remain as to the legality of cannabis as an ingredient in food or dietary supplements. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a statement reiterating that cannabis and cannabis-derived substances are not permitted ingredients in food or dietary supplements. The FDA is currently taking comments on this issue and will hold a public hearing at the end of the month. Cannabis has not been shown to be safe when eaten like regular foods and supplements.

Cannabis-related products should not be permitted to make health or medical claims. Cannabis-infused foods or supplements are not drugs, have not been approved by the FDA as drugs, and should not be permitted on the marketplace with these types of medical claims. It would truly be a tragedy if parents or children substituted these improperly promoted foods and supplements for critically necessary drugs.

The cannabis industry, like the distilled spirits industry, should at a minimum voluntarily agree to no health or medical claims for these products and should consider limiting the advertising and promotional vehicles to those which reach an audience primarily over 21.

We need a common sense approach to the production, sale, and use of products containing cannabis. Federal, state, and local authorities should carefully monitor all labeling, advertising, and promotions to make sure there are no health or medical claims for these products.

Until next week, I am Rick Frank reporting from Southern California.