On May 31, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a widely anticipated public hearing to gather information on the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, including cannabidiol (CBD), in consumer products such as foods, dietary supplements and cosmetics. Although FDA did not reveal any new regulatory pronouncements, the hearing marks an important initial step in the Agency’s on-going evaluation of a potential evidence-based regulatory pathway for such products.
At the hearing, Acting Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless delivered opening remarks and reiterated that recent changes to federal and state law, and the explosion of CBD products in the marketplace, have not affected FDA’s view that CBD cannot be lawfully added to any FDA-regulated consumer product. While the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “Farm Bill”) generally legalized CBD derived from hemp (defined as cannabis with THC content below 0.3% by dry weight), the Farm Bill explicitly preserved FDA’s authority to regulate foods, drugs, dietary supplements and cosmetics containing CBD. Dr. Sharpless said critical questions remain about the safety of widespread CBD use and the Agency will carefully evaluate whether evidence supports the broad use of CBD in FDA-regulated products.
Echoing his predecessor Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Dr. Sharpless noted that FDA is primarily concerned with over-the-counter CBD products that claim to prevent, diagnose, mitigate, treat or cure serious diseases such as cancer. While FDA enforcement to date has focused on CBD products making egregious disease claims, Dr. Sharpless noted that FDA does not have a policy of enforcement discretion with respect to any CBD products.
Over 100 people testified at the hearing from a broad range of interest groups including academia, health professionals, agriculture, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, consumer groups, patients, state governments, public safety organizations, and legal professionals. Speakers discussed a wide array of uses for CBD products and provided anecdotal and scientific conclusions regarding CBD use. Several speakers described the current CBD market as the ‘Wild West’ and emphasized the need for instituting quality assurance and good manufacturing standards. Many speakers also addressed the difficulty of testing CBD products in the current legal environment and how that hinders the creation of quality CBD products.
Comments to the FDA docket may be submitted until July 2, 2019.
If you need assistance navigating the unsettled and complex regulatory environment for cannabis-derived products including CBD, or if you are interested in submitting comments to the docket, contact Frier Levitt Government Affairs today.