Despite the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the regulation of cannabidiol (CBD) remains uncertain nearly five years later. In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came to the conclusion that a new regulatory pathway is needed for CBD. This new pathway would balance consumer demands for CBD products with regulatory oversight to manage potential risks.
The reaction from the industry was strong, with many expressing frustration and disappointment. The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the Natural Products Association (NPA) both criticized the FDA’s inaction and indecision regarding the regulation of CBD.
One of the reasons for the FDA’s decision was the potential safety concerns raised by the use of CBD, particularly with long-term use. These safety concerns include possible liver damage, interactions with certain medications, and harm to the male reproductive system. The FDA also expressed concern about CBD exposure in vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women.
In April, a review from the Office of Food Additive Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) stated that the toxicological profile of CBD raised safety concerns, especially for long-term consumption by the general population.
However, industry insiders question the validity of this caution. They argue that drug standards were used to conduct a supplement study, which they find disingenuous and potentially harmful to the regulatory process on CBD.
As the FDA continues to determine how to proceed, brands are offering CBD products to consumers. However, the lack of clear regulations and guidelines creates uncertainty for both companies and consumers.
For more information on the CBD industry and the challenges it faces, check out WholeFoods Magazine’s Spotlight on Phytocannabinoids.
Maggie Jaqua is the Content Director of WholeFoods Magazine and weekly In The Know newsletters dedicated to informing and educating the Natural Products Industry. Jaqua is also the Editorial Advisor and moderator for the #NaturallyInformed virtual event series and co-host of The Natural View podcast, available on YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify.