FDA Holds First Ever Public Meeting on CBD
On Friday, May 31st, The Food and Drug Administration held the nation's first-ever public hearing on CBD. Industry leaders sought to legitimize CBD products, requesting that the FDA regulate the emerging CBD marketplace similar to food or dietary products. Healthcare officials spoke, seeking stricter standards on CBD labeling and medical use. Ultimately, the FDA declared that more research must first be conducted before determining what regulatory pathways to take for CBD products in the US.
Why Did the FDA Hold a Hearing on CBD?
With the legalization of Hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill, the federal regulation of CBD products was put into question. Under the bill, Congress explicitly detailed the federal oversight of cannabis and cannabis-related products to remain in the hands of the FDA. On the same day the Farm Bill passed into law, the FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement outlining the agency's regulatory authority over (now legal) CBD products.
Four months later, Gottlieb issued another statement outlining the lack of federal oversight on the growing CBD marketplace. In this statement, Gottlieb explained the steps the FDA will take in future regulations of CBD in the country. Before decisions were finalized, the FDA held a public hearing, intending to let stakeholders, healthcare professionals and citizens express their opinions on CBD products and how they should be regulated. On May 31st, 2019, the FDA took testimonies from a wide range of participants, allowing 2 minutes for each speaker to share their opinions on the future of CBD.
Who Spoke at the Hearing?
The morning began with industry leaders testifying for intuitive regulations on CBD products in the nation, stating the need for federal standards on safety, banking and commerce. The economic benefits the industry brings to the US were mentioned several times, including the fortune that has been collected from taxes on cannabis-related products. Testimony continued with stakeholders speaking to the low risk that cannabis products pose to consumers and the need for regulations that mirror this specifically. Of the various statements issued by speakers, one fact was synonymous throughout all testimony -- the industry needs to know how the FDA plans to regulate CBD in the immediate future..
Following statements from CBD industry leaders, advocacy organizations representing medical patients offered their opinions on CBD as medicine. Leaders from organizations like The American Epilepsy Society (AES) spoke on CBD, with many calling for better federal safety standards. Kevin Chapman, one of the leaders of the AES, asked the FDA for better warning labels, federal standards in CBD research and more research altogether on the effects of cannabidiol on the human body. Many research groups stated the need for more conclusive scientific data before throwing their weight behind CBD as medicine.
Representatives from several states also came to speak at the FDA hearing, with many echoing concerns about the lack of scientific evidence when crafting state policies and legislation. Many state regulators cited the need for federal oversight over CBD regulations, as the current patchwork of state laws and regulations has become increasingly difficult to understand.
The FDA's Decision
After taking hours of testimony, the FDA finally concluded that more scientific research needs to be conducted before deciding on a regulatory framework for CBD. The FDA officially states they are "committed to sound, science-based policy on CBD." However, before the FDA can create that sound, science-based policy, administration leaders have stated that they first have many unanswered questions about CBD. To answer these questions, the FDA created a working group led by Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy to study ways CBD can be sold, how it impacts public health and the need for federal legislation. Despite the unanimous call for a clear federal regulatory framework on the CBD marketplace, the administration will have to first finish its investigation. The FDA is taking written public comments on the issue until July 2nd.
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