The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been looking into regulating CBD since official committees began gathering in May 2019.
The government entity is now placing a laser focus on the regulatory process surrounding CBD, hoping to release a report by early fall of 2019 outlining rules regarding the production and sales of this increasingly popular compound.
The FDA recognizes the importance of CBD to many groups, such as:
- Those who use CBD for a variety of medical ailments;
- Those who do not have access to medicinal THC;
- Hemp farmers who make a living cultivating and selling hemp to CBD companies; and
- Stakeholders in the CBD industry.
By regulating the CBD industry, the FDA hopes to bring stability and safety to what is currently a Wild West market, where everything and anything goes.
The Fear of Regulation: A Thorn About to Be Removed From the Industry’s Side
Because of the stigma attached to alternative medicine, and the cannabis plant in particular, both businesses and consumers alike were nervous about the decision of the FDA to step in.
The FDA, however, has recognized the medicinal benefits of CBD products and can no longer ignore the demands of the public at large for this product. The agency’s new focus is on expediting regulations and establishing guidelines for those companies offering consumable CBD products in the U.S.
This regulation will force companies to be honest about what is in their products, including accurate and truthful information regarding the following elements:
- Fillers will have to be listed;
- CBD will have to be measured to confirm it occurs in the doses listed on the label;
- Companies will have to be honest about where they source their CBD from; and
- The FDA will test different CBD products to ensure quality and efficacy.
On May 31, a public hearing confirmed that those in the CBD industry are looking forward to being able to market CBD products as food and wellness items in retail once the FDA has concluded its regulation process.
The Troublesome Timeline of CBD’s Rise to Fame
Despite support from individual congress members, the FDA fears that the regulatory process could take years with full support from Congress. While the FDA is exploring legal pathways that will allow it to pass CBD as a food-approved substance in a shorter time frame, the organization has stated that congressional approval would shorten the process even more.
Comments on the public hearing closed on July 16, and the FDA’s report is expected to be forthcoming in the next few months. There are many that hope to see an expedient timeline when it comes to regulating CBD as a food and wellness product.
The Economy of Cannabis: A Booming Market With No Signs of Slowing Down
Estimated to grow 700% by the year 2020, CBD is positioned to be one of the most lucrative markets for investors and brands to move into. Some projections expect the U.S. market alone to reach around $20 billion by 2024. A prospect that companies such as Next Green Wave have capitalized on, seizing up market share and positioning themselves for the booming market ahead.
Upon its introduction to the market, both domestic and internationally, CBD quickly skyrocketed in popularity, with millions of individuals turning to this all-natural compound for relief from pain, inflammation, mental health conditions and more. Although more research is needed, initial findings look positive and echo the sentiments of those users posting about their own positive experiences with the supplement.
Along with demand has come a wave of companies, both domestically and worldwide, seeking to fill the supply-demand gap in the market, selling CBD to consumers both in-store and online.
The Importance of CBD Regulation
CBD derived from hemp is protected under the 2018 Farm Bill (as long as it meets all the mandated guidelines).
This breakthrough legislation opens the doors for companies to source their own CBD and introduce a range of products to the market. Third-party laboratory reports often confirm the contents of CBD products, but not every company invests in this testing or releases it to the public.
Some companies looking to offer a cheaper product may be tempted to use hemp bought from overseas or to be dishonest about how much CBD is in a bottle. Others may not feel the need to list any fillers or preservatives used in their product. Other companies have taken steps to vertically integrate, having greater control over the product from farm to store shelves and ensuring the purest, highest quality.
Hemp absorbs what is in the soil around it. Because of this, hemp sourced from overseas may be subject to toxins in the soil that would not be allowed with domestic growing projects. This is just one reason it is important for the FDA to be able to monitor CBD companies.
Improving Health Through the Regulation of CBD—A New Reality
If the FDA can speed up the timeline for approving CBD in food and wellness products, then businesses will be able to provide CBD solutions to customers more efficiently, safely and even more cost-effectively. The FDA, on the other hand, will be able to make sure that companies are not making claims they should not be making, such as touting CBD as a cure-all.
CBD is a natural solution that works with the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce more cannabinoids. These cannabinoids regulate our inflammatory and immune systems. By producing more cannabinoids, the body is able to better control these systems, reducing inflammation, pain and some disease symptoms.
The science behind how CBD works is incredible, and the FDA is becoming aware of just how useful the compound may be to the American people, as well as acknowledging their right to use such a product if they so choose to do so.
A Call to Congress
When Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, expressed concern at the lengthy timeline set forth by the FDA, the FDA was in agreement. The organization is urging Congress to set into action legislation that would allow CBD to be considered as a food product, though it has previously only been considered as a drug.
Concerns remain around its previous designation as a controlled substance, however, and this may cause difficulty in trying to expedite the process. Although the designated time period for public comments has closed, reaching out to congressional members about a passionate issue is always encouraged.
Hope for the Future
Ideally, the FDA has a few goals in mind when it comes to regulating CBD:
- CBD will be considered both a food product and a wellness product.
- The FDA will be able to send letters to companies that are making outrageous claims concerning the use of CBD.
- Laboratory results will be able to be confirmed to substantiate claims on labels.
- The FDA will be able to identify any CBD products that are potentially dangerous.
- More businesses will be able to participate in the industry, increasing economic gain, competition and product variety.
Overall, the FDA wants to be able to ensure the safety of consumers when selecting CBD products, whether online or in a retail store. Once the rules have been established and CBD stakeholders know the process for bringing CBD products to the market, the FDA can begin testing existing products and holding companies accountable.
Ensuring Consumer Safety Is Top Priority
The stigma that once surrounded the cannabis plant is disappearing. As CBD grows in popularity, society is beginning to realize that the health benefits of the plant can be enjoyed without using a mind-altering substance. This greatly opens up potential medical benefits.
The FDA will spend the next few years beginning the regulation process, unless help from Congress allows the organization to speed things up. The FDA’s report this fall will give a better idea of how the process will go and how long it will take.
The FDA has taken many steps to speed up the timeline and continues to explore various options. When it comes to CBD consumption, safety and efficacy are the two main concerns. Consumers want a quality product that works well, and the FDA will work hard to ensure that all CBD products that come to market fulfill those standards.