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Cannabis Companies Lobby the FDA to Fully Legalize CBD


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen CBD products on the shelves. You’ve probably even heard folks talk about using CBD that you normally wouldn’t suspect, like older relatives or your local postal worker, stating how the cannabinoid eases their arthritic pain or alleviates their anxiety, helping them sleep better. Iconic local businesses, such as Stumptown Coffee here in Portland, Oregon, have launched CBD products and pharmacy giant CVS announced that it was selling CBD products in about 1,500 stores across 8 states. While it seems like CBD and CBD-infused products are fully legal, like Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega tells Jules Winnfield about hash in Amsterdam, “It’s legal, but it ain’t 100% legal.” That could all change as the FDA is holding a historic hearing on “Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-Derived Compounds,” including CBD, today.

The landmark 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and derivatives such as CBD from the federal list of controlled substances so long as THC percentages don’t exceed .03%, but, and it is a big but, the law gave the FDA the authority to regulate all cannabis compounds, including CBD. The FDA has had a relative hands-off approach so long as companies haven’t made exaggerated claims about curing Alzheimer’s or cancer, but it would be good for the cannabis industry and consumers to have clarity, so long as the FDA doesn’t unnecessarily stifle the market.

Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the US Hemp Roundtable trade group, believes that the FDA has conceded that CBD is too big to fail, as Quartz reported:

Miller, whose group represents CBD brands including Lord Jones, Charlotte’s Web, and CV Sciences, is among the many who will address the agency today. He’ll be joined by scientists, consumer advocates, health professionals, patients, retailers, manufacturers, medical researchers, agricultural experts, and scientists—and that’s all before the one-hour lunch-break. The marathon schedule of stakeholders demonstrates this molecule’s potentially massive impact on US health, culture, and corporate bottom lines.

A docket for public input has also amassed some 800 comments, many of which appear to be personal testimonials from patients who claim CBD has helped them avoid using more powerful prescription painkillers or sleep aids.

Miller says he doesn’t expect anything conclusive to come from today’s hearing—“I think it’s going to be more a time for them to listen,” he says—but that it is an important first step toward formally recognizing hemp-derived CBD as a dietary supplement or food additive. That step could “once and for all establish the legality of all the CBD products that people are purchasing,” he says, and “unleash what’s projected to be a multi-multi-billion-dollar industry.”

The CBD industry has boomed in recent years into a major business sector and some analysts expect a multi-billion dollar market share by 2025. Step by step, the cannabis and hemp industries have made big strides over the last several years. Today’s FDA hearing could be the beginning of a giant leap for the industry and everyone that could benefit from CBD. Good luck to everyone providing testimony and fighting for common sense regulations.

To learn the latest about the cannabis and hemp industries, including the CBD market, there is no better place to be than the International Cannabis Business Conference. Next event: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, this September 15-16. Be sure to purchase your early-bird tickets by August 21st.

Hat tip to longtime activist Doug McVay, who pointed out to me that the FDA’s hearing was on cannabis compounds, not specifically CBD. Edits were made for accuracy. 

CBD, FDA, Jonathan Miller, US Hemp Roundtable