Companies selling CBD-infused food and beverages have a message to the Food and Drug Administration: Regulate us, please.
CBD, an abbreviation for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant that promises to relax the body without altering the mind. While the federal government legalized the CBD derived from hemp, a close cousin of marijuana, FDA rules still prohibit businesses and restaurants from adding it to food or beverages.
In anticipation of the new federal rules, New York City, Ohio and Maine have asked restaurants to stop selling CBD foods and beverages in recent weeks, saying the FDA was not recognizing products as safe. Legal uncertainty discourages startups that are trying to take advantage of the growing popularity of CBD and probably prevents large food and beverage companies from staying out of business, industry leaders said.
"The boogeyman was the DEA, and now he's become the FDA," said Eric Cahan, owner of Mamacha, a New York matcha coffee that served CBD-infused drinks until the department of New York City's health is starting to take hold. The Drug Enforcement Administration could tackle companies selling CBD before it is legalized.
Business will get a little clarity on Wednesday when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb travels to Capitol Hill at 3 pm testify before the House Budget Drafting Committee. Representative Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, announced her intention to pressure him on this issue.
Although the use of CBD in food is clearly prohibited by FDA rules, the industry expects that this will change position once President Donald Trump promulgated the Farm Bill. in December, legalizing CBD derived from hemp.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency would establish new rules to legalize consumer-based CBD products, but he also condemned some products touting unproven health benefits and s & rsquo; Is committed to using the existing rules to prohibit their sale.
"We will take the necessary enforcement measures to protect public health against companies that illegally sell cannabis and cannabis products that may endanger consumers and are marketed in violation of FDA authorities," said Gottlieb at the time.
Benjamin Witte said that he foresaw the regulatory review that followed the adoption of the agricultural bill. He launched a salt-based beverage called Recess, which claims full-spectrum hemp extract, not CBD. The hemp extract can include several cannabinoids or cannabis compounds. CBD is only one of at least 100 cannabinoids found in hemp.
For Witte, what is happening now with the CBD is "no different" from what Uber's early days were. He said that he was pleased with the regulations and that there was a "serious lack of nuance in the conversation" currently.
"I want it to be something very controlled," Witte said, adding that he hoped the hemp extract would become a licensed and certified food ingredient, which would be no different than whey protein. or caffeine. "Some of the biggest risks for Recess are probably the bad actors who do not take it seriously."
Nic Balzer, founder and CEO of Queen City Hemp, said the lack of clear federal rules is causing "temporary confusion" at the state level. In its original state, Ohio, regulators remove food products and CBD-based drinks from tablets. Balzer said his CBD records were removed from stores in Ohio.
"I see it as temporary," he said. "I do not see how the FDA could refuse to update its position given the pressure exerted by Congress."
Ideally, Balzer would like the FDA to officially designate hemp extract, which includes CBD, as "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS. This would treat CBD and other hemp derived compounds as other commonly used ingredients, such as vanilla flavoring or salt, provided they meet the same safety standards.
Congress is also lobbying the FDA for answers. Twelve lawmakers wrote a letter to Gottlieb earlier this month, in which he was asking a litany of questions, including when he planned to hold public meetings on the CBD and whether he would like to hear about it. agency advised local governments to withdraw products.