This ‘Wild West’ industry could be facing some law and order
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is gearing up to tighten its oversight of cannabidiol, better known as CBD, the non-intoxicating chemical cousin of THC that is marketed as a natural remedy for a wide variety of ailments.
Since late last year, products containing CBD—from pills, oils, and cosmetics to drinks, gummies, and even dog treats—have proliferated across the country. The boom is largely thanks to a change in federal law that legalized hemp—a low-THC variety of marijuana—which had previously been categorized with pot and harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. That change opened the door for legal hemp-derived CBD and a market that could explode to $22 billion by 2022, according to the market research firm Brightfield Group.
But now a broad cross-section of medical researchers, policy analysts, marijuana industry insiders, and federal regulators are worried that door was opened a little too wide. On June 20, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to a package of upcoming spending bills that directs the FDA to come up with new regulations for CBD products.
But the agency was already on it: In May, it hosted an all-day hearing on CBD, where officials grilled dozens of experts about which—if any—of the multitude of claims made about CBD were actually backed by science, and how consumers can be sure about the quality of what they’re really getting when they pay for a CBD product. The agency also fired off a series of menacing letters to CBD-selling companies that the agency claims violated marketing laws. The FDA is accepting public comments on potential CBD regulation until July 16, and has already received more than 2,700 (many of which sing CBD’s praises: “I want the FDA to leave cbd oil alone…this is a plant from God, let Gods people use it to heal and manage pain”). After that, new rules could follow quickly.
“We must sort this out in service of public health,” Amy Abernethy, the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner, said on Twitter after the hearing. “We will work as quickly as possible to define a way forward.”
So is it time to start stockpiling your favorite CBD products before they disappear? Here’s what you need to know: