Setting Standards: The FDA and CBD Future State

CBD and FDA Regulation

When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally held its first public hearing on CBD at the end of May, the focus seemed off.

It was at times a “get your popcorn ready” hearing when lawyers promised new future lawsuits, while sobering at others when hearing from people whose lives have been greatly improved by access to CBD. Yet, the focus should no longer be on the FDA determining which products are going to be allowed to be sold—that has already been determined.

Any type of product with CBD will ultimately come to the market, that much is very clear. Through companies taking the lead and stuffing CBD into everything from smoothies to hummus to fast-food burgers to essentially any and every personal care products, getting that horse back in the barn is not going to happen.

(Want to know more about CBD? Read our insights on current and potential CBD consumers here.)

Instead, the FDA and the cannabis industry need to work together to determine what is a “good” product for consumer use. While there may be some forms that fall outside FDA jurisdiction, for many consumers the development of federal standards is needed and warranted.

Unregulated and Unclear

For every legit CBD product on the market today, there are (you pick the number) versions that don’t have CBD content advertised, don’t have any CBD, and/or have high levels of heavy metals and are unsafe. The presence of these products on the market will erode customer trust in the general CBD market, especially if steps are not taken to regulate.

For sure, the industry as taken steps with the U.S. Hemp Authority’s Certification Seal, modeled after dietary supplement manufacturing standards. Some have praised these efforts, while others have pointed to the general lack of consumer trust prevalent in the supplement industry today and would like this industry to go further.

Cooperation is Necessary

The need for clarity is increasing with each passing day. As we discovered in our forthcoming CBD Experience: Part 2, consumers are using CBD not just for the general “wellness” reasons of wanting to be calmed, improve their state of mind or improve their sleep, but as treatments for much more serious mental afflictions, including PTSD and depression.

It would be disingenuous for us to take a hands-off approach and say that consumers are using based on their experiences, when so much of the marketing, content and commentary about CBD has been based in all-encapsulating superlatives. The CBD industry has shaped consumer demand and application, and it’s time that it works with the FDA to 1) verify these claims and 2) weed out the bad actors in its midst.

The FDA is just getting started in understanding its own guardrails for CBD, as it works with or through other government agencies, notably Agriculture and DEA. Hopefully it will understand very soon that scaling back most CBD applications will be a futile exercise and that it should instead focus its efforts on its mission, protecting the health of the general public. With that as a guiding principle, and with cooperation and respectful input from the industry, that aim can be achieved..


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Photo by Erik McIean on Unsplash

(This post originally appeared on Cannabis Business Executive.)

Eric Giandelone