Whenever I post another article that I come across where a municipality is banning the sale of CBD-infused food and drink, the reason is all because of the FDA.
While the Hemp Act (part of the 2018 Farm Bill – described here) was a big step forward for the cannabis industry as it made it legal on the federal level to grow and distribute industrial hemp, the FDA has not yet come around on the idea of this alternative medicine as a food additive.
I came across this article on CNBC.com today and the message from the cannabis industry to the FDA is clear: add some regulation.
CBD and the FDA
The legislation that was passed in December and signed by President Trump has forced the Food and Drug Administration to come under fire for what has become a booming market with high demand. There is no doubt that cannabidiol was the hottest trend in the health and wellness industry in 2018 (if not the biggest trend across all industries), and this legislation has set the stage for this medicine to become an even bigger business in the coming years.
However, as the FDA has not yet done their research (as this is a relatively new medicine) and given the clearance for CBD to be used as a food additive, it remains in a gray area from a legal standpoint. This is true even in states where marijuana has been legalized recreationally. Some cities and states have even gone so far to levying fines and pulling products off the shelves of retailers that are selling food and beverages that are infused with cannabidiol. As to why only certain municipalities are performing this crackdown on CBD edibles, and others are not, I am not quite sure.
The Issues It Creates
This uncertainty of the legality of selling CBD products in edible form has been quite a hindrance on startups who are looking to cash in on this booming industry.
It has also prevented large food and beverage conglomerates from entering the fray and truly bringing this alternative medicine to the masses.
As a cafe owner in New York City says (quoted in the linked article), “The boogeyman used to be the DEA and now it’s suddenly become the FDA.”
There is a meeting of the House of Representatives this week in which Scott Gottlieb, the Commissioner of the FDA, will be testifying. While the meeting is for budgetary purposes, at least one state representative has stated that they plan to press him on the issue of CBD. I plan to keep a close on the proceedings and see what kind of answers Gottlieb provides. I hope to hear a favorable response, an update on where the FDA currently stands, and their timeline to make a decision on CBD. Gottlieb has said in the past that the agency would be establishing new rules to approve CBD products like these for consumption, we have not yet seen anything to that point. I hope this week’s meeting provides some more clarity.