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On May 31st, 2019 the FDA held a public hearing to discuss the future of CBD products and the industry alike. 120 out of 400 applicants including varying CBD companies, lawyers, doctors, farmers and more pleaded their cases in front of the FDA to help start a conversation about what restrictions should be enforced upon the growing industry.
Though the scheduling of this hearing was something that the industry has been long awaiting, the waiting will only continue. The FDA will be taking comments and concerns from the public until July 2nd, with the possibility of an extension of that deadline in order to fully cover all of the possible concerns surrounding CBD.
This hearing came at a time when the CBD industry is booming after the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill in December. As it stands right now the CBD industry is expected to grow to $22 billion by 2025 according to the Bright Field Group who specializes in conducting research on cannabis. The main concern of the FDA is the lack of consistency and quality control, causing consumers and companies to be hesitant to buy or sell CBD products. The other concern that has caused the push for these conversations is the use of CBD in food and beverages whether being infused or added to the product. The oversight on this specific issue has caused major confusion across the industry and has muddied the waters when it comes to understanding the legality of CBD products.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, “the FDA has said it is exploring pathways to lift the ban on introducing CBD into food and drink, and for CBD to be treated like a dietary supplement, such as Vitamin C or fish oil”. This possible change is something to look forward to but the FDA stated several times throughout the hearing that this was just the beginning of the conversations and that regulations and decisions could be year(s) out.
The news that the FDA may not make decisions very quickly on many of the issues surrounding CBD is discouraging, however, there is hope. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s stated prior to the hearing that the FDA is hoping to give the public some answers as early as this summer, especially in regards to CBD infused food and beverage products; the decision will come no earlier than July 2nd.
Despite the confusion, the CBD industry is continuing to grow exponentially. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, over one-quarter of Americans have tried CBD at least once in the past two years as well as one out of seven of those people stating that they use the product daily. Consumer Reports was one of the presenters at the FDA hearing and stressed the sheer number of people and businesses who will be affected by the upcoming decisions by the FDA.
As current or future business owners it would be encouraged to keep up to date with the changes in this industry as it does change daily. The idea here is to not panic, to not take these concerns as a sign that the industry is falling apart – on the contrary, this is a sign that this industry is being recognized for what it is and that the FDA aims to create regulations that will protect consumers and business owners alike.