Will TTB approve any formulas or labels for alcohol beverage products that contain marijuana?

TTB will not approve any formulas or labels for alcohol beverage products that contain marijuana. The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), defines marijuana as all parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant (and its derivatives) including tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), cannabidiols (CBD), andterpenes.

The CSA definition of marijuana for controlled substances applies regardless of whether such substances are lawful under State law.

The parts of the cannabis plant that are excluded from the definition of marijuana in the CSA (referred to here as “hemp” ingredients) include hemp seed oil, sterilized hemp seeds, and non-resinous, mature hemp stalks. Formula approval from TTB is required before a hemp ingredient may be used in the production of an alcohol beverage product.

For alcohol beverage products containing a hemp ingredient, the product label must accurately and specifically identify the ingredient in a manner that makes it clear that the ingredient is not a controlled substance (e.g., “hemp seed oil” rather than “hemp oil”). Additionally, labeling statements for alcohol beverage products may not create the misleading impression that the product contains a controlled substance or has effects similar to those of a controlled substance.

TTB notes that section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, defines “industrial hemp.” See 7 U.S.C. 5940.  Subject to certain restrictions, this law allows an institution of higher education or a State department of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for purposes of research where allowed under State law.  As explained by the Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp which was issued by USDA section 7606 does not authorize the sale of industrial hemp “for the purpose of general commercial activity.” Accordingly, it is TTB’s understanding that the Farm Bill does not authorize the use of industrial hemp in the production of alcohol beverage products for sale beyond limited State-sanctioned pilot projects by authorized entities. New York has such a program.

What this means for New York brewers is that if they get approved for a pilot project involving industrial hemp, it may produce beer and malt beverage products for sale and consumption only in New York. They will need State Liquor Authority label approval, but not a federal COLA.

The brewery industry has some complex issues. Our team is here to help industry members when they have questions about compliance issues involving state or federal law.