Outgoing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb expressed concern about the country’s leading drugstore chains selling CBD products.
Walgreens has recently announced that they will begin selling CBD-infused sprays, creams, balms, and patches in around 1,500 stores throughout nine states where medical cannabis is already legal. Rival drugstore CVS Pharmacy, meanwhile, has already introduced CBD topicals in around 800 stores across eight states.
During a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday, Gottlieb raised concern about Walgreens and CVS stepping into the cannabis market.
“So you see big-box stores seeking to market CBD products for some uses where the claims seem to be potentially over the line, for the treatment of pain, for example,” he said.
FDA sets May 31 public hearing on legalization of CBD in food, drinks
In another related news, the agency has set the first public hearing on the legalization of CBD in food and drinks for May 31, 2019.
The FDA is seeking data related to the safety of the cannabis compound in food products. It is also asking for public feedback on how it can regulate the manufacture, marketing, and labeling of such products.
Gottlieb has named Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy and Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller as co-chairs of a high-level working group in charge of evaluating the matter.
In a statement, Gottlieb said it is important that the unanswered questions about CBD and other cannabis-derived products be addressed. He added that this would help inform their regulatory oversight of these products, especially as they consider whether it is appropriate to allow the use of CBD in food and in dietary supplements.
What’s the issue about CBD anyway?
CBD or cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis that possesses a wide range of therapeutic benefits, including relief from pain, anxiety, and a bunch of other medical conditions and symptoms.
Late last year, Congress legalized CBD from hemp via the Farm Bill, and this was supposed to cause a surge in consumer CBD-infused products. However, the FDA’s rules prohibit adding CBD in food and drinks, and this has kept most large companies from cashing in on the new legislation. However, there are still several start-ups that have jumped right in.
Following calls from Congress, the FDA has privately been looking for a solution to the conflicting policies. So, the agency has decided to take its efforts public via a meeting at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Gottlieb tries to manage expectations, though, by saying that the issue is complicated and that it could take some time to be fully resolved. Nevertheless, he assures that the agency is deeply focused on the matter and is committed to continuing to engage relevant stakeholders as they consider potential paths forward.