Colorado’s New CBD Industry Regulations Explained

How the Centennial State seeks to create truth in labeling

When purchasing a product, a consumer should not have to wonder whether the label on the package accurately describes the product inside. In the CBD industry, however, it is a well-known fact that product labels do not always tell the full story. 

The severity of this problem can be illustrated by the staggering number of CBD companies that have been issued warning letters by the FDA due to inaccurate labeling of products. In the list of 2015 warning letters, there are shocking examples of products claiming to contain up to 500 mg of CBD, yet showing no traces of cannabinoids at all after laboratory testing. One such product even tested positive for levels of THC above the legal limit for CBD of 0.3% by weight. 

With this issue in mind, Colorado is leading the charge in reimagining labeling regulations. In the wake of the 2018 Farm Bill, Colorado announced the CHAMP initiative, or Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan. At the heart of the plan is an effort to create truth in labeling by continuing, “to establish guidance for retailer and manufacturer marketing and labeling which harmonize with national and international standards, when appropriate, for consumable hemp products”. Kazmira is a proud industry partner of the CHAMP initiative and has worked closely with regulators in developing policy that advocates first and foremost for consumer transparency. 

Towards Transparency

Starting in July of this year, the state of Colorado and the industry as a whole is taking significant steps toward broader transparency and accountability for manufacturers of CBD products. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment approved new regulations pertaining to lab testing and labeling of CBD products sold in the state. 

Most notably, CDPHE regulation 6 CCR 1010-21 has been updated so that, as of July 1st of this year, manufacturers of CBD products are required to display the amount of all cannabinoids, including THC, in milligrams contained in a single serving of the product as well as in the entire container (This can be in the form of a “less than or equal to” statement. For example, a product could display “Container ≤ 15 mg Total THC Which ≤  0.25 mg THC per serving”). Without these guidelines, the onus falls on the consumer to calculate the amount of THC contained in a product, based only on the federal upper limit of 0.3% by weight. The CDPHE regulations signal a new era of product labeling in which the responsibility for calculating and communicating THC content will shift to the manufacturer. 

Under the same regulation, ingredient lists will be required to display whether the product contains isolated cannabinoids or full or broad spectrum hemp extracts. As isolated cannabinoids are often used to boost CBD and minor cannabinoid concentration, this will give consumers insight about the manufacturing processes of the companies they purchase from. 

Also effective as of July 1st are new regulations pertaining to laboratory testing of products derived from industrial hemp. Laboratory analysis will be required to determine not only the amount of THC that products contain, but also the amount of certain contaminants such as bacteria and fungi, mycotoxins, pesticides, heavy metals and residual solvents. Additional new regulations contained in 5 CCR 1005-5 detail the procedures for certifying and running approved hemp testing laboratories in the state of Colorado. 

Adjacent to these regulations, CDPHE also announced a statewide ban on hemp-derived THC isomers. An example of one of these isomers that has caught the public’s attention recently is delta-8 THC, which had previously been seen as a loophole to the stringent rules against the better known delta-9 THC. With CDPHE’s announcement, that loophole is now closed.

US Pacific Northwest Follows Suit

The state of Oregon has also signaled its commitment to transparency and safety within the CBD industry with the passage of a recent law that bans the sale of CBD products containing more than 0.5 milligrams of THC to minors under the age of 21. The law specifically includes products containing either delta-8 THC or delta-9 THC, and applies to all hemp products that are considered consumable – meaning something one can eat, drink or inhale. 

In order to be compliant with this law, vendors in Oregon will have to request Certificates of Analysis, or COAs, from manufacturers for all consumable products they sell. Using the data on the COA, the vendor will be responsible for calculating the amount of THC in milligrams of their products, and thus determining which products can and cannot be sold to minors under 21. 

Taken in tandem with the sweeping new Colorado regulations, Oregon’s new law represents the beginning of a shift in the way the nation thinks about and interacts with CBD products, and could be a catalyst for other states to soon follow suit with consumer safety regulations of their own. 

The Implications

Many consumers are under the impression that the existence of federal guidance mandating CBD products contain 0.3% THC by weight implies that those products are, for all intents and purposes, THC-free. Given that many products advertise THC-free on their label, this is not an unreasonable assumption. In reality, however, an FDA study found that 49% of a sample of CBD products contained THC. 

Under Colorado’s new regulations, all companies will have to disclose the THC content in their products. If the data from the FDA’s study can be reliably extrapolated, it means that nearly half of these newly labeled products will display a non-zero THC content. In some cases, the amount of THC in a product can exceed 70 mg and still be compliant under the federal stipulation of 0.3% THC by weight. 

Though these regulations technically apply only at the state level, their effects will be felt far outside the borders of Colorado. Because the regulations dictate guidelines for products sold in Colorado, even manufacturers from outside the state will be required to indicate their products’ THC content if they want to sell them in Colorado retail locations. 

As the de facto leader of the cannabis industry as a whole, these regulations do not represent the first time Colorado has led the charge in introducing groundbreaking legislation, and it likely will not be the last. If previous trends repeat themselves, it is probable that other states will enact similar regulations in the near future, following the example that Colorado so often sets. 

As the industry leader in manufacturing THC-free CBD products and a partner in Colorado’s CHAMP Initiative, Kazmira stands ready for the implementation of the new CDPHE regulations. Using proprietary purification technology, we can reliably and consistently make end products with non-detect levels of THC. We do this without the use of isolated cannabinoids or synthetic compounds, using proven separation science to preserve the integrity of hemp’s naturally occurring compounds. Under the new CDPHE regulations, we will proudly and accurately label our products with 0 mg of THC per serving and per container.

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