On November 25, 2019, FDA issued Warning Letters to 15 companies illegally marketing cannabidiol (CBD) products. On the same day, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published a revised consumer update, “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD,” describing the “very limited” scientific information available about CBD and its health effects. The points made in the Warning Letters and update are nothing new to those closely following the FDA working group on cannabis and CBD, but the actions signal the FDA’s continued enforcement against companies marketing CBD foods, supplements, and cosmetics with unsupported health claims.
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On November 20, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would decriminalize cannabis on a nationwide scale. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 – or MORE Act – passed with what some are calling a landslide vote of 24-10, with two Republicans – Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) – crossing party lines to join in supporting bill. This vote marks the first time in history a congressional committee has affirmatively approved to end federal cannabis prohibition. The committee markup of the MORE Act is historical in and of itself, as it represents the first debate that was not centered on whether cannabis prohibition should be abolished, but, instead, focused on implementation of a policy that would ultimately accomplish cannabis legalization.
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The legalization of cannabis in several states had left a major question unanswered: is an employee who violates the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) by distributing cannabis as part of his or her job still subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which provides for the payment of wages?
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On October 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its long-awaited interim final rule governing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. USDA has been developing these interim regulations since hemp was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. These hotly anticipated rules are important not only for hemp producers and hemp-derived product companies, but for cannabis companies interested in diversifying or pivoting into a crop that is legal under federal law.
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On October 12, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1291 (“AB 1291”) into law, which requires companies to sign a so-called “labor peace” agreement with a union or risk losing their cannabis license; thereby, strengthening already union-friendly statewide cannabis law.
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On May 2, 2019, the United States Trademark Office issued new Examination Guidelines for goods and services associated with cannabis and cannabis-derived products and services legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.[1] This crack in the federal armor against the cannabis economy opens the door for the federal registration of trademark rights and is an important step toward normalizing the nation’s laws governing cannabis and cannabis-related business activities in states where such products are legal.
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*This article was originally posted in Law360 on June 4, 2019.

The much-anticipated public hearing last week at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds drew a wide audience of participants, with strong views on how the FDA should (or should not) regulate the controversial plant.
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On May 1, 2019, AAFCO provided updated guidelines regarding the use of hemp in animal food, including how this market is affected by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (the “Farm Bill”). Although the AAFCO is not a government agency, its members are government agencies that represent the 50 states, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 
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