On May 31st, cannabis, hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) advocates as well as investors tuned in by the thousands to a much-anticipated public FDA hearing on CBD featuring over a hundred speakers. These included health professionals, scientists and researchers from within the burgeoning CBD industry. The hearing is widely seen as the FDA's first step in considering a potential regulatory framework around CBD specifically as an additive to food and beverages in the United States, and has already caused quite a stir in stock prices.
As of this writing, the FDA is expected to continue taking comments from qualified experts until mid-July.
What was the main subject of the public FDA hearings on CBD?
In order to understand the FDA's concerns surrounding CBD, it's worth a quick look at some of the history surrounding the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. Immediately after President Trump had signed the so-called "Farm Bill" into law in December, FDA director Scott Gottlieb issued a statement reserving the FDA's authority to enact future regulations on CBD and all cannabis constituents under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act.
In April this year, Gottlieb issued another statement clarifying that while the Agricultural Improvement Act fully legalized hemp- and cannabis-sourced CBD, that legalization does not include the infusion of CBD into food, beverages and/or dietary supplements – all of which are under the strict purview of the FDA.
The May 31st CBD hearings are seen as the FDA's first step in hashing out regulations on CBD as it pertains to food, drinks and dietary supplements, which will likely influence the trajectory of the cannabis and CBD industries going forward.
What were the main takeaways from the FDA hearings? In this post, we briefly go over everything you need to know and how it could impact CBD and terpenoids availability.
Notable Comments & Speakers at The FDA Hearings
While cannabis stakeholders and entrepreneurs delivered little more than vociferous proclamations on the health benefits of CBD, there were speakers worth noting. Organic and Natural Health Association CEO Karen Howard spoke on the current quality controls on CBD products, and proposed enough new ones in a PowerPoint presentation to exceed her two-minute time limit.
The American Association for Laboratory Accreditation's (A2LA) Anna Williams offered compelling arguments for nationally standardized testing methods for contaminants and adulterants, rather than the existing state-by-state testing standards which cause confusion and inconsistency in quality between different products.
Finally, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) policy director Andrew Kline advocated for five major positions on behalf of the CBD industry trade organization. These included nationalized regulations, voluntary, consensus-based standards across the industry and an organized information campaign on the potential risks of CBD targeted at consumers.
Much Ado About Nothing? A Matter of Perspective
In the end, whether or not the FDA hearings on CBD are a game changer will depend entirely on one's level of involvement in the industry. For investors and retailers, it's important to keep up with regulations imposed by federal entities such as the FDA; their bottom line and marketing strategies should be built around them, after all.
For physicians and other outsiders, the FDA hearings are likely to make very little difference. Both patients and consumers primarily obtain CBD in the form of medicinal or therapeutic health supplements, whether as part of a prescription or simple self care. However, the hearings concluded in July, and CBD is set to continue revolutionizing the world of natural medicine.