CBD news is coming fast and furious as public sentiment drives the approval of CBD legislation
Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) have been steadily increasing in popularity in recent years, with Statista reporting that annual sales of this particular hemp plant extract have grown from $108.1 million in 2014 in the United States to an anticipated $813 million by year’s end.
With the passage of the Farm Bill in December of 2018 — an action that removed industrial hemp from being an illegal substance under the Controlled Substances Act — these numbers are anticipated to grow even faster in the years ahead, reaching more than $1.8 billion by 2022.
One factor that has likely kept CBD sales from being even higher during this period of time — its lack of approval from the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food and drink.
The FDA and CBD
The FDA puts food and drink items through rigorous approval processes, only labeling them safe for use or consumption after certain standards have been reached. This process has been extremely tricky, if not non-existent for CBD products, largely because, until the new Farm Bill, all marijuana plant extracts were deemed illegal.
That kept this agency from establishing guidelines for CBD products as it wasn’t an option until its legal status was changed, and also held back research on CBD.
But now, in a CBD news consumer update posted on its website, the FDA says that it does recognize “the significant public interest in cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD.”
Studies and underway and being funded to learn more about how CBD effects the body over longer periods of time, what happens when you combine CBD-containing products, the impact CBD has on certain demographics of people, and whether CBD is safe for animals before creating any regulations about when this hemp extract should be used and before providing proper dosing instructions.
Admittedly, this is a normally a lengthy process as it often takes companies years to get a product approved for the mass market. Fortunately, the FDA has the right to fast-track certain products and substances.
A 2020 outlook
Read the FDA’s mission and, in addition to having public health responsibilities, this agency says that it is also “responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medical products more effective, safer, and more affordable.”
In regard to CBD specifically, the FDA says that, while it still believes that its current process is the best way to ensure that this particular cannabinoid is both safe and effective, it also “might consider updating its regulations” when it comes to CBD products designed for non-drug uses.
This could include reviewing and possibly revamping the process that CBD-containing dietary supplements will follow, which may wind up different than the process used for approving prescription drugs like Epidiolex. Epidiolex is the first drug the FDA has approved with a marijuana component, opening it for use by individuals with difficult to treat forms of epilepsy like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
In recent CBD news, in an August speech at the National Hemp Council’s 2019 Hemp Business Summit, Lowell Schiller, JD, principal associate commissioner for policy at the FDA’s Office of Policy, stated that CBD will continue to be treated like any other product the agency is sworn to regulate. Schiller went on to say that this will help ensure its safety and effectiveness according to scientifically-based studies and offer protection from a product that could potentially cause more damage than good.
CBD and the human body
Specifically, some of the risks the FDA is concerned about with regard to CBD include how it will impact the liver, its sedative effects, whether it could enhance or incite suicidal behavior, and its potential interaction with other drugs. Therefore, until more research is conducted in these areas, this governmental agency is leery about putting a blanket stamp of approval on this substance. One way the FDA is helping “to move our process forward efficiently” according to Schiller is the formation of an internal group dedicated solely to the issue of CBD policy. This is in addition to another group within this agency that was created to oversee broader issues related to marijuana in general.
The FDA is also considering various viewpoints and perspectives by the general public by holding public hearings and opening public dockets where anyone can submit their opinions about CBD or provide data for the FDA to review. It can also go to Congress if, after looking at all of the information provided, it feels that it needs more resources.
Last month in CBD news Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to insert language into a congressional spending report that called on the FDA to fast-track lawful marketing of hemp-derived CBD products.
Initially the FDA said CBD sales as food items or dietary supplements would likely take years to develop alternative regulations outside of congressional action, but McConnell, who was a strong proponent of the 2018 Farm Bill, directed the FDA to “issue a policy of enforcement discretion with regard to certain products containing CBD” within the next four months.
At the same time the FDA, USDA and other government arms have begun designating millions of dollars for CBD research.
Based on all of this, it appears that the FDA is helping fast-track the approval process for CBD products for a likely 2020 debut of legal CBD in food and drink, in addition to the currently-legal topicals and tincture (liquid CBD) markets.