Expanding hemp-derived CBD to food products could bring millions to Kentucky

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY– Products made with hemp are popping up everywhere — including gas stations, pharmacies and other local stores. One place you won’t find them yet is in most grocery stores.

The Food and Drug Administration will hold a public hearing on regulating hemp-derived CBD on May 31. Proponents say Kentucky could benefit tremendously from the expansion of CBD in food products.

Kentucky state Rep. Richard Heath chairs the House Agriculture Committee in Frankfort. He says the federal government regularly looks to Kentucky for guidance on products in the hemp industry. He says Kentucky state lawmakers are aware and staying on top of any new changes in the industry.

CBD is an FDA-approved drug in the form of prescription medication for seizures, but hasn’t been introduced into the FDA food supply.

“This meeting is being driven from the market side and not from from the regulatory side,” Heath says. “So, the regulatory side are scrambling to catch up to where the market is.”

He says it’s important to allow the government to conduct the necessary tests and studies on CBD products.

Heath says he does believe the FDA will end up allowing CBD in food. “I think we’re too far into the process and there’s been enough of the CBD oil across the United States that people have been using and the around the world,” he says.

“If there were issues out there that people were dying out there or getting sick taking CBD oil, it would have shown up way before now,” Heath says. “So, I think it would be safe to move ahead.”

Dylan Duckett owns cloud9 Paducah, a smoke shop on Clarks River Road. He has multiple CBD products ranging from oils to soothing syrups.

“We get 10 customers who say they didn’t necessarily notice the effect of one thing as they did on the other. So we always recommend, if one thing doesn’t necessarily do the trick for you, then go ahead and try another form,” Duckett says.

He says adding more products infused with CBD is something his store would be interested in. “I think it’s going to make CBD less expensive with more companies getting to producing it,” Duckett says. “I think it’s going to be a little bit more widely available.”

Heath says his district has seen many jobs and money invested in products related to hemp, such as the $40 million hemp company GenCanna coming to Mayfield.

“It has a huge economic impact potential for Kentucky,” Heath said. “For the farmer, the processors that are going to hire the people to process it, and then the retailers will be selling it. So, what we’re seeing now is a very small tip of the iceberg.”

One day you may go down an aisle at your grocery store and see hundreds of CBD products. This is only the first step in getting CBD products approved in food. It might take months or even years to get the final OK.

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