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FDA offers first inklings on CBD in food and drink by releasing hearing date for May

FDA Buildings outside D.C. Source - Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The regulators at the Food and Drug Administration have finally started a slow march toward more clarity for those within the U.S. cannabidiol, or CBD, trade with a new announcement that they would discuss guidelines for safety next month. [1]

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp products, but not the use of hemp extract CBD in foods and drinks. Still, the industry has charged forward undeterred, confused by the conflicting rules and offering the products anyway, which caused police overreactions in some areas.

Now, the beginnings of a standard for CBD rules have emerged. CNBC reports that the FDA will meet May 31 to discuss regulating the substance. [1]

While there was heavy pressure from lawmakers in Congress for the FDA to clarify their rules in the past month or so, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the rules should probably be made through new laws.

Gottlieb’s reasoning is that without legislation, CBD rules might fall to years of slow internal movement within the FDA. Despite the intergovernmental haggling, the promise of a new discussion at FDA’s headquarters outside of Washington, D.C. means a sigh of relief for the budding CBD industry.

According to CNBC, Gottlieb said Tuesday:

“It's critical that we address these unanswered questions about CBD and other cannabis and cannabis-derived products to help inform the FDA's regulatory oversight of these products – especially as the agency considers whether it could be appropriate to exercise its authority to allow the use of CBD in dietary supplements and other foods.” [1]

Early signs from the FDA show that if no laws are passed and the agency ends up making the brunt of the regulations themselves, CBD will probably be differentiated legally by the potency or concentration between batches in a product and across brands. [1]

While the FDA under the retiring Gottlieb has continually asserted its right to regulate CBD within food and drink products, industry insiders and customers have turned to their own means of ensuring safety.

Industry boards and guilds have already started to emerge within the CBD space, and third-party lab-testing of products’ potencies, terpene levels and other qualities have offered clarity for consumers even as FDA regulators and legislators have dawdled.

One example of this phenomenon is the U.S. Hemp Authority, an industry group which recently published a list of approved brands. [2]

These companies’ CBD, like Charlotte’s Web brand, are known for their quality not only in the time since hemp was legalized, but also since they’ve been developed in states where they were able to research under lax marijuana laws, like Colorado and California. [2]




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