FDA’s hearing on CBD – a mixed bag of results

On May 31st, the FDA held so of its first official hearings on CBD. More than 100 individuals and organizations were there to share their opinions are CBD. Obviously, with a number that high you are not going to get consensus. And that is okay; this is what the hearings are for. You want to see how CBD is perceived by business owners, medical professionals, and individuals themselves that have used the cannabinoid.

This meeting was the first of several expected developments in the FDA regulation of CBD in food, beverages, and dietary supplements. This oversight was granted by the 2018 Farm Bill which we have discussed ad nauseum in other blog posts. The FDA is looking to crack down on companies making bogus claims about how CBD can cure or even assist in treating ailments. While you could find thousands that would directly support these claims, they are just not to be made until the FDA has certified CBD as effective treatment, which we know has only been done in with case with Epidiolex to treat childhood forms of epilepsy.

As no surprise to anyone, the FDA has its concerns about CBD, how it is marketed, and its effectiveness. This is to be suspected as CBD has just started to gather national attention the past few years. There hasn’t been money for funding expensive studies (even though this one was a pretty great start). This is the usual cycle for new products and, frankly, new industries. We are seeing the same thing on the payments side with CBD. Elavon, which covered a vast majority of CBD merchants, closed down accounts in the past couple of months (including ours) due to pressure from the credit card companies. It all comes down to the same reason: the great unknown. In time, which could be months or years, the normalization of CBD will make it easier to know which products really work the best. It will also be significantly easier for merchants like us to provide products directly to our customers. There will be a lot of ups and downs during this time, but the future is promising. Frankly, too many people are in love with CBD and have personal stories of how it has changed their lives dramatically. The wave is, and will continue, to build. Hell, who thought you would be able to buy CBD as CVS, Walgreens, and Bed, Bath & Beyond a year ago? Hint: no one.

Here are our main takeaways from the FDA hearing:

  • There is still a lot of confusion regarding CBD. A lot of people voiced their success stories with the naturally occurring element. Others voiced their valid concerns of the unknowns: effectiveness, correct dosage amounts, and false claims that companies are making which is tainting the industry.
  • Tighter regulations are likely to come to food and beverage items containing CBD first. This is no great surprise either seeing that the FDA is strictly and wholly over the safety of food and beverage products. Expect to see brands and manufacturers being asked to certify all of their products in the future.
  • FDA expressed concerns for certain groups of individuals, primarily children, elderly, and pregnant woman. Although it has been showed you can not ‘overdose’ on CBD, it is more than fair that the effects need to be studied on these subsets of humans.
  • Last but not least, everyone wants to see more data. Researchers and healthcare providers want to study the efficacy of CBD in medical usages, regulators want public safety information made more prevalent, and the FDA wants to see just how safe CBD really is.

Important to note, there is still an open comment period until July 2nd for written comments. While the FDA previously mentioned it would provide guidance to the public on a new needed regulatory framework this summer, based on the hearing, this seems unlikely. It seems we are at the beginning of a drawn out process that will take months. It is more likely the regulation guideposts will come out in the fall. We will surely be here to cover it.

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