Cannabis Beer Faces Stiff Barriers to Entry

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The American drinks industry has been expanding not only in size, but also in flavor and formula. Part of the innovation in the beer industry has been cannabis-infused beer. However, The Ringer explains that it is questionable whether this new beer will survive, due to a multitude of regulations:

Tom Hogue, the congressional liaison for the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), tried to explain the labyrinth of regulations. “There are three layers — at least two, but potentially three,” he said. “Federal law, state law, and you may have local ordinances.”

Brewers are required to submit all beer formulas to the TTB for approval, and if there’s a question of safety, Hogue said, it has to be vetted by the Food and Drug Administration. From there, the path to commercial viability gets complicated further. “Let’s say I produce a beer here in Virginia. I brew it here, I sell it here, it does not leave the state,” he said. “I don’t have to have a label that’s approved federally to get it out in the market. If I’m selling it outside Virginia, I need federal approval.”

FDA approval of regular beer recipes has become standardized, but according to Hogue, hemp-derived beers are scrutinized much more closely. The TTB has to reconcile these formulas with not only the FDA, but the Drug Enforcement Administration as well because cannabis is a controlled substance. If the beer meets the standards of all three bodies, the drinks can be sold in the states where they’re made...

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