This week the Colorado legislature decided to leave the state’s hemp industry in limbo. The decision to leave hemp farming in the hands of the state’s hemp commission, rather than the Department of Agriculture, comes partially as a result of new federal regulations that may pose a threat to the state’s hemp farmers. Because hemp farming is federally illegal, one of the major concerns of many hemp farmers in Colorado has been the future of hemp growing when federal law changes. This week, the state legislature decided to take a step back and have hemp farming remain in the hands of the state’s hemp commission.

The change in cannabis laws is coming, welcome to the next era of cannabis. More states are passing laws that are beneficial to the industry, if they’re not already. Colorado is currently working on revisions to its current regulations, to ensure they are the most effective possible for the environment and public.

Government regulatory bodies help to legitimise the sector, gain consumer confidence and develop this promising market.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to be eager to create a legal path for the production, sale, and distribution of cannabis products, state regulators continue to keep pace with the demands of this burgeoning market by issuing increasingly subtle and complex regulations for these products.

Several states, including Oregon and Colorado, first adopted cannabis cultivation regulations in 2015, after the Farm Bill went into effect in 2014. Although these rules were quite extensive at the time, they soon became too broad to adequately regulate the wide range of product categories that eventually appeared on the market. To address this problem, governments have been forced to make frequent regulatory changes to keep up with the industry.

Photo Remedy Pics via Unsplash

Earlier this year, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) adopted new regulations that recently went into effect (labeling requirements, as well as some testing requirements, went into effect July 1) and are now among the most comprehensive in the country.

Many of the recently adopted CDPHE regulations address issues that have become extremely important to the industry, but have not yet been addressed by state regulators – and the FDA. Some of these problems are described below.


CDPHE regulations allow the sale of cannabis-based foods, supplements and cosmetics, provided the products contain ingredients from an approved source. The term approved source includes manufacturers and wholesalers registered with the CDPHE, as well as products from states and countries that regulate these products to ensure they are safe for human consumption. In adopting a broad definition of approved source, the CDPHE recognized that many cannabis products sold in the state originate in other jurisdictions and that there is a need to regulate these products, at least in part.

The rules also define terms such as broad spectrum, cannabinoids, full spectrum, industrial hemp extract and unprocessed industrial hemp products. This shows that the wide range of hemp products currently available in the United States must be clearly defined, but also differentiated, and that the rules must be adapted to the specific characteristics and subtleties of each product category.

Processing and production

Manufacturers and processors in the state must be registered with the CDPHE and meet specific production requirements, such as. B. the preparation of a very detailed written recall plan, as required by federal law.


In addition to testing products for THC and total THC content, the CDPHE requires that from 1. In August, cannabis-infused products manufactured in the state will be tested for more than 100 pesticides, microorganisms, heavy metals and solvent residues to ensure they are safe for human consumption.


Under the new regulations, product labels must comply with the general labeling requirements of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, including the listing of allergens in foods and dietary supplements and, where applicable, warnings to prevent health risks that may be associated with cosmetic products. Since the adoption of these new rules, the CDPHE has also issued very detailed labelling guidelines for each product category it regulates: food products, food supplements and cosmetics.

Photo: Iryna Veklich/Getty Images

Other important labeling requirements include: 1) listing each cannabinoid extracted as an ingredient and its concentration in milligrams; 2) listing the THC content per serving and the total THC content per package of the finished product; and 3) including a code or numbering system that indicates the date and location of manufacture and packaging so that products can be easily traced in the event of a recall.


The CDPHE also sets transportation requirements, requiring that unfinished and finished cannabis products be packaged and transported in a manner that protects them from adulteration, cross-contamination with allergens, environmental contamination, and other hazards.

If you’ve been following this blog, you may have noticed that the CDPHE rules mirror many of the proposed rules released by the New York City Department of Health in October 2020, which we described at the time as the most comprehensive set of rules to date. You can read more about it here and here.

These current and proposed regulations demonstrate that state regulators anticipate future federal regulations and actively align their regulations with those already established by federal law.

Moreover, by setting high quality testing standards and requiring greater transparency and accuracy in the labelling and marketing of these products, public authorities help to legitimise the sector, build consumer confidence and develop this promising market. We can only hope that the leadership of these states will encourage the FDA to do its administrative work and allow the industry to stay on track and succeed.

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