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California Takes Action to Protect Youth from Illegal Hemp Products

SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom directed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to issue notices addressing the sale and distribution of illegal hemp products. These notices seek to ensure compliance with existing law to protect Californians, particularly youth, from mislabeled and potentially harmful hemp-infused products.

“Mislabeled and misleading products do not belong in the marketplace—especially when they put our kids’ health and safety at risk,” said Governor Newsom. “Today, the state is taking action to protect Californians, especially our kids, as we work to further close loopholes and increase enforcement to prevent children from accessing hemp and cannabis products.”

Today’s notices come after a number of highly intoxicating hemp beverages have been seen in retail settings across the state – which could lead to them dangerously winding up in the hands of young Californians. Hemp products, which are separately regulated from the legal cannabis market, are required to comply with a number of consumer safety laws, including strict labeling requirements. Distributing or selling products that do not meet these requirements is a crime, and can result in the loss of an applicable license.

  • CDPH Notice to Hemp Manufacturers & Distributors: CDPH’s notice states that licensees are expected to comply with all laws that affect their business operations and are required to operate their licensed business in a lawful manner. This includes ensuring that any industrial hemp products being sold are lawful. If an industrial hemp product package or label does not fully comply with these requirements, then it is mislabeled or misbranded and is therefore illegal.
  • ABC Notice to Licensees: ABC’s notice highlights that the state has been made aware of the growing prevalence of potentially illegal hemp products in the marketplace. Many licensees sell hemp products and are thus at risk of liability if they sell any illegal hemp products. Manufacturers are specifically prohibited from advertising or marketing to children (among others), so packaging or products that might reasonably be considered as attractive to children should be treated with particular caution.

WHY THIS MATTERS: California youth can be exposed to intoxicating products through illegal hemp merchandise. Today’s action is a critical step to protect young Californians from accessing these products.

WHAT COMES NEXT: The Newsom Administration is working with the Legislature to further close loopholes and increase enforcement. 

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