CHICO — Nearly a year since the Farm Bill allowed for more freedom in growing hemp, Butte County growers cultivating hemp plants for CBD are already seeing harvests for this year.
However, they won’t need to report yields or details about much else to the county, at least for now.
There are now about 24 growers licensed to grow CBD plants in Butte County, according to the county’s agricultural commissioner Louie B. Mendoza. These growers have responded to a growing market for CBD, particularly after the 2018 Farm Bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334) removed hemp, cannabis plants and derivatives (containing no more than 0.3 percent THC) from the Food and Drug Administration’s list of controlled substances under federal law, among other changes.
Hemp plants, like this one seen June 20, 2019, and grown at the Lassen Lava CBD Nursery in Chico, looks like marijuana plants but does not contain the same amounts of THC, the pschoactive drug in marijuana. The hemp grower recently completed its first CBD harvest. (Matt Bates — Enterprise-Record)
Evergreens Landscape, also called Lassen Lava CBD Nursery, is one of those growers, which announced that it successfully completed the first year’s harvest in October at the facility in Chico.
The grower reported that about 100 pounds of finished Cherry 308 cultivar was harvested and is in processing, after passing required state testing to show that yields contain less than 0.3% THC. Those samples were taken by a third party, Fruit Growers Labs out of Chico under the supervision of the Butte County Agricultural Commission and were tested before the start of the harvest.
Because of the new nature of the market for CBD plants and growing in the county, Mendoza said the commission does not regulate growers like Lassen Lava CBD Nursery or receive reports of their yields. All his office does is license these growers, he said.
“We don’t deal with the regulatory processes (of CBD) at all,” Mendoza said, adding that the county only oversees reports from industrial hemp growers.
Currently, under the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA’s authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under section 351 of the Public Health Service Act has been preserved. The FDA treats products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds with the same requirement as any other FDA-regulated products.
“It (CBD) may eventually be its own commodity, like walnuts or almonds,” Mendoza said, but for now, CBD products will be listed in the county’s 2019 agricultural report, released in September or October 2020, in the miscellaneous category.
For questions about how the FDA currently regulates manufacture of products containing CBD, a full guide is available on the website.