On Thursday, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a press release in which it said it’s currently looking for “pathways” to legalize the sale of CBD oil and other cannabis-derived compounds in food and beverages.
The press release was put out just after President Trump signed the 2018 Farm bill into law. The bill legalized industrial hemp by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, but it didn’t strip the FDA of its power to regulate products containing cannabis.
“In view of the proliferation of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived substances, the FDA will advance new steps to better define our public health obligations in this area,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. “We’ll also continue to closely scrutinize products that could pose risks to consumers.”
Growing consumer interest
Gottlieb stressed that because components of marijuana, such as THC and CBD, are “active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs” such as the recently approved epilepsy medication Epidiolex, it remains illegal to “introduce drug ingredients like these into the food supply, or to market them as dietary supplements.”
But the FDA said it’s “aware of the growing public interest in cannabis and cannabis-derived products.” The federal agency plans to hold a public meeting in the near future to collect input on how to legalize the marketing for cannabis-derived compounds.
“While products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds remain subject to the FDA’s authorities and requirements, there are pathways available for those who seek to lawfully introduce these products into interstate commerce,” Gottlieb said. “The FDA will continue to take steps to make the pathways for the lawful marketing of these products more efficient.”
Loosening its stance
Currently, the FDA bars companies from adding CBD and THC to food, drinks, and supplements. It also prohibits companies from making any therapeutic claims about their products if these ingredients are included.
However, the agency said it recognizes the “potential opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds could offer and acknowledge the significant interest in these possibilities.”
“We’re committed to pursuing an efficient regulatory framework for allowing product developers that meet the requirements under our authorities to lawfully market these types of products,” Gottlieb said.
Following its approval of Epidiolex earlier this year, the FDA stated that “CBD has a negligible abuse potential.” It’s a non-psychoactive compound with a growing body of anecdotal evidence that it helps with a range of conditions, such as anxiety, sleep disorders, and inflammation.
Although not currently permitted under federal law, companies have already started infusing products like coffee, cocktails, and cosmetic products with CBD.