New Zealand authorities have ordered two hemp farmers to stop selling products containing cannabidiol, which is listed as medicine and only authorized in the country as a prescription medication. Failure to comply with the order attracts a fine of $100,000 and loss of hemp licensing.
The hemp farmers, Aaron Silcock and Sarah Gibson from Reefton in New Zealand’s West Coast region, received the threat from the country’s medical regulatory body, Medsafe.
A spokesman for Medsafe said that the products in question, EPIK Hemp Balm and EPIK Daily Drops contained traces of CBD, a scheduled ingredient, which puts the products under the medicine category.
According to Medsafe spokesman, the products carried therapeutic claims, which brings them within the 1981 Medicines Act’s scope regulating products meant for therapeutic purposes.
Under the Medicines Act, it is unlawful to engage in selling, advertising, or distributing any medication that has not obtained distribution approval by Medsafe.
Gibson and Silcock obtained their industrial hemp license in 2016 after the amendment of the Food Regulations 2015 and the Misuse of Drugs 2006, which declared hemp seed as food and allowed sales.
The farmers have been growing hemp on their previous dairy farm since 2016.
Gibson blamed bureaucracy saying their products had no psychoactive influence as they regularly get their crop tested to they lacked THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis) and CBD. She added that they have never disregarded the conditions of their license.
The couple also argued that they have never made therapeutics claims regarding their products. Whatever praises they received for their hemp-based products rich in essential oils came from online customer reviews.
According to Gibson, Medsafe used a mystery shopper to purchase the products they alleged to have tested for cannabidiol.
While the couple questioned Medsafe’s intent and lab results, they complied with the body’s directive and removed their products from circulation, incurring a $10,000 loss in unsold stock.