America’s food and beverage behemoths have their eyes on CBD and are pushing for a national framework.
Granted, the big boys and girls haven’t jumped into the pool yet. This is not surprising since FDA has long opined CBD cannot be lawfully sold in human food or dietary supplements.
Nonetheless, it’s clear the food sector is poised to dive into the market when FDA specifies circumstances in which CBD can be added to food and beverages, imposes dosage limits for such products, and writes other rules.
But these food and beverage giants may have to wait several years before FDA promulgates final CBD rules. This reality could frustrate the rollout of safe, cannabis-infused food and beverage products that promote general health, while leaving the tasks of regulation, and to a large extent consumer protection, to the states.
In a 2020 report to Congress, FDA disclosed “it is actively considering potential pathways for certain CBD products to be marketed as dietary supplements.” Conspicuously absent from its report was a similar statement that it was examining a potential regulatory pathway for CBD in food.
Instead, FDA reported “the data currently available to FDA raise safety concerns about the use of CBD in food.” The agency encouraged “interested parties to continue to develop and share with FDA information regarding whether there are conditions under which CBD could safely be added to food.”
Unfortunately, this state of limbo leaves companies vulnerable to a growing and dizzying array of state CBD regulations that may be inconsistent from one jurisdiction to the next. In a report describing the findings of an October 2019 survey of 2,056 adults, the Consumer Brands Association reported 137 state bills were under consideration for CBD products and hemp derivatives.
Following FDA’s lead, some states like California and New York have explicitly stated CBD cannot be sold in food. Others like Virginia treat hemp extract as a food and are working on promulgating regulations for labeling, testing and other requirements.
FDA has clearly stated it lacks the necessary safety data on CBD and has many unanswered questions, such as the ingredient’s effect on humans if they use it daily for a sustained period of time, CBD’s effect on the developing brain and whether it causes male reproductive toxicity, as has been reported in animal studies.
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