The United States Food and Drug Administration may be softening its policies when it comes to the sales of cannabis-based edible products. The federal agency is reportedly looking for “pathways” that would lead to the legalization of the interstate sale of CBD oil and cannabis-based compounds in food, drinks, and supplements.
This potential move could remove one of the last legal hurdles remaining for those companies who are hoping to market and distribute cannabis-derived edible products across state lines.
According to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, they have outlined steps that the FDA is considering in the regulation of cannabis products after U.S. President Donald Trump signed the farm bill into law the day before.
The farm bill and hemp
The farm bill is an $867-billion, five-year spending legislation the provides for the funding of federal programs on agriculture and nutrition. This new law also effectively loosened some of the federal government’s restrictions on cannabis.
More specifically, the farm bill legalized hemp by removing it from the list under the Controlled Substances Act. It does preserve the authority of the FDA to regulate the products.
The farm bill is enough to allow Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth to enter the U.S. market, according to Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton. He said that they will also be able to support American farmers now.
The FDA’s current policies on cannabis-derived food and drinks
Currently, the agency prohibits companies from adding THC and CBD to food, beverages and supplements. They are also not allowed to make any therapeutic claims regarding their products. What’s more, the FDA does not authorize the sale of products that contain CBD across state lines.
Until the agency adopts changes to its current rules, it will continue to enforce the current restrictions against its cannabis products.
However, by signaling its willingness to relax its otherwise strict stance, the agency could encourage even more interest in cannabis-based products.
In fact, industry analysts have already said that they are expecting a major boom in CBD-containing drinks, oils, and other products within the next few years. This as consumers are becoming more and more interested in CBD due to its wide range of reported benefits. Some companies are even technically skirting federal laws by infusing cocktails, coffee, lotions and other skin products, and even pet treats with the non-psychoactive compound.
The FDA is aware of the increasing public interest in marijuana and in cannabis-derived products, Gottlieb added. The agency, he said, is planning to hold a public meeting soon to seek input on how the marketing aspect for cannabis-based compounds can be legalized and how to make sure that the laws are efficient and predictable.
According to Gottlieb, while cannabis-derived products and compounds remain subject to the agency’s requirements, there are pathways available for those who want to lawfully introduce such products into interstate commerce. They will continue to take steps in order to make these pathways for the lawful sales of these products more efficient.
He clarified that in the meantime, the agency will continue to go after those that make egregious unproven claims. The FDA has already warned in writing those companies that sell CBD products, including the ones that claim to treat and cure cancer.