The cannabis industry is in a bit of a panic right now over the news that Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is resigning from his post and moving back to Connecticut. Their concern is that his desire to pack-it-up and vacate his position with the Trump Administration will slow down the progress further of sorting out the confusion surrounding hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). It was just last month that Gottlieb promised to hold public hearings in April to try and figure out how to properly regulate the substance. Now, no one seems to know whether these meetings will go down as planned or be cast aside.
Ever since Congress legalized industrial hemp production at the end of last year, cannabis companies have been trying to use the law to step up the distribution of hemp-derived CBD products. Although there is very little scientific evidence that this non-intoxicating compound is genuinely beneficial in treating a variety of health conditions or promoting wellness, CBD has become the next best thing since sliced bread in the eyes of Americans. Wall Street analysts predict it will become a $16 billion market by 2025. No kidding, they predict even Starbucks will enter the game.
But the FDA swooped in and tossed a wrench in the wheels of the CBD craze earlier this year when it said companies purporting the medicinal benefits of CBD must go through the agency’s approval process. It took this a step further by advising that not even CBD used in edible products, a popular trend in the wellness market, was not allowed since the compound has not yet been giving the green light for food application. The main takeaway way was that CBD producers must be held to the same standards as other companies that manufacture food and medicine.
The FDA’s comments sparked some CBD bans in local and state jurisdictions. Yet, Gottlieb’s CBD hearings were the first step to sorting out the problem.
But no meeting was ever scheduled.
Although Gottlieb said the FDA would hold public hearings on the CBD issue, no specific date was ever mentioned or made official. So, it is not likely there is a giant calendar smack dab in the middle of the agency’s offices in Washington D.C. with “CBD Hearings” written down somewhere in the month of April for the next commissioner to jump into when he or she steps in. Nope. Rest assured, no one is sitting around the FDA today making a plan to address CBD regulations.
In fact, some reports indicate that all of the initiatives supported by Gottlieb are in jeopardy of falling by the wayside upon his departure. In other words, it is probably going to take some heavy-handedness on the part of the cannabis advocacy community (and possibly Congress) before the question of whether unapproved hemp-derived CBD products can be used with upsetting the feds. So is this good or bad for the marijuana industry? We’re going to say it’s mostly bad, as it will probably continue to jam up those companies trying to profit from industrial hemp.