CannIntelligence predicted that 2022 would be the year of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids (IHDCs) and that has proven to be the case. Products have increased in popularity – with both delta-8 and delta-9 THC products increasing in sales and new IHDCs starting to appear on markets.
This in turn has led to increased regulatory scrutiny and regulation. Interestingly, though, not all jurisdictions have chosen to go down the route of completely banning IHDCs. US states have been the leaders in dealing with IHDCs – though other jurisdictions will probably have to catch up soon, with evidence of increased interest in the products across multiple other markets, such as those of EU member states.
This may be heightened by the allegations that a child in Virginia died after consuming an IHDC gummy. However, Curaleaf’s mislabelling accident – in which THC and CBD lines were accidentally cross-labelled – did not have as big an impact on the overall market as CannIntelligence thought it might. Perhaps the as-yet-unsubstantiated cause of death will be the same.
Either way, the increased interest in IHDCs is perhaps also being driven by recreational cannabis not doing as well as might have been expected through 2022.
The Dutch closed coffee shop trial never got going during the year, while Italy did not pass a recreational decriminalisation effort – both efforts CannIntelligence had predicted would come to pass.
States out in front
We were right, though, in saying cannabis reform at the federal US level would be incremental. It should be noted that the Cannabis Research Bill is the first major independent cannabis bill to be passed by a US legislature.
Similarly, at the state level, although Rhode Island successfully passed its recreational cannabis act in May 2022 and Maryland passed its in November, Ohio saw its proposal removed from consideration for the November ballot as part of a lawsuit settlement.
And though Mississippi signed a medical cannabis act into law in February, CannIntelligence was caught out in Nebraska, where efforts to put a legalisation bill on the ballot fell short.
The increased interest in IHDCs may also be being driven by CBD companies looking to prop up sales as markets continue to stagnate. As CannIntelligence predicted, there was no federal movement on hemp-derived cannabinoids in the US.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has continued to be satisfied with taking a selective approach to enforcement on CBD products it considers a public health risk. To date, these have mostly been products for which health claims are made – with one interesting exception towards the end of the year.
Novel foods proving sticky
Meanwhile, if anything, CannIntelligence was not pessimistic enough about progress on ingestible cannabinoid-containing products.
The FDA has continued to stall and has raised further concerns about CBD safety data. European authorities have gone a step further, suspending work on novel food applications, citing concerns over gaps in the data provided.
It is only in the UK that progress on novel food continues – albeit at a snail’s pace, with no further significant announcements after the publication of the list of validated applications in the first half of the year.
All in all then, an eventful year for cannabinoids and one in which CannIntelligence’s predictions turned out to be more often right than wrong.
– Freddie Dawson CannIntelligence staff
Photo: Jim Choate