He expects CBD research to increase now that regulations have eased up on hemp, but it could take years before enough date is collected to support regulations.
Bottom line: Holstege wouldn't recommend using CBD yet.
"The federal government is there to make sure that we're getting products safely. This is one we're all watching with a lot of interest because this is the new fad right now," he said. "I wish there were substances out there that can cure anything."
WHAT ARE THE LEGAL ISSUES? Anyone can get their hands on CBD, but how do you know whether it's legal?
An important distinction is whether the CBD comes from marijuana or hemp. Marijuana is still considered illegal by the federal and Virginia state governments, but the state allows patients to use CBD derived from the plant as long as they have certification from a physician and are registered with the state for prescriptions, referred to as affirmative defense.
But none of the five pharmaceutical processors which were chosen to grow, cultivate and process medical marijuana in Virginia have opened yet. New York-based Columbia Care, which will operate a dispensary in Portsmouth, expects to open by November.
Hemp-derived CBD is technically not illegal since the passage of the federal 2018 Farm Bill was passed. But it's illegal for sellers to market the products as dietary supplements or promote them as being able to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease or condition. In a July letter sent to Virginia industrial hemp processors, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stated that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's administration directed the department to treat hemp-derived extracts as approved food additives and require food safety inspections of processors.
Even so, CBD-infused food and beverages for interstate commerce are illegal under federal law. But Virginia's state law allows them. So are shops that sell food and beverages containing CBD following state law but breaking federal law?
"That's a simple question with a complicated answer," said Jonathan Gallo, an attorney with Norfolk-based law firm Vandeventer Black.
The intended use of the product and how it is labeled and marketed are the main concerns of legality.
The FDA declined several interview requests from The Virginian-Pilot.
"As is the case in a lot of things, the law is slow to react, so there appears to be some differences there (between the state and federal laws)," Gallo said. "So it'll be interesting to see what happens ... The issue is that it takes a while to create regulation. It has to be written and reviewed."
Gallo and attorney Anne Bibeau head a new hemp and medical marijuana practice that was created by the Norfolk law firm this year. Gallo was previously employed at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and was on a team which implemented the state's first therapeutic cannabis program after three years of developing program regulations, application processes, selection and licensing of medical cannabis dispensaries.
"We had to write the regulations because there were no regulations. It was a clean sheet of paper," he said. "The cannabis industry is growing exponentially and the businesses are going to need legal counsel just like other businesses."
There have been a few inquiries for the practice in the last few months and Gallo said he expects them to increase. But the lack of regulations makes his job more difficult.
"If the law is not set, it certainly makes it more challenging to provide guidance to clients and it's going to continue to change," he said. "So that is why we have to keep abreast of everything that's going on, which we do, to make sure we give our clients the best service possible." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.