FDA Rulemaking on Hemp/CBD – Hurry Up And Wait?

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by Andrew Kline, NCIA’s Director of Public Policy

In April of 2019, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) formed a coalition of more than 100 CBD/Hemp entrepreneurs, scientists, medical doctors, and FDA lawyers to inform and influence FDA rulemaking on cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds. Over the past two months, coalition members worked tirelessly to draft public comments. Our goal was to answer all of the questions posed by FDA (including scientific questions), to be helpful to FDA by informing their rule-making process, and to influence the direction of their rule-making.

NCIA Files Public Comment And Testimony

On May 30, 2019, we filed 60 pages of formal comments which can be found here. I’m really grateful for the coalition’s collaborative work and quite proud of our final product. I’m also extremely grateful to the authors, including Alena Rodriguez of RM3 Labs, Dr. Paul Murchowski of Dr. Pauls, Khurshid Khoja of Greenbridge Corporate Counsel, Vanessa Marquez and Chris Elawar of CBD Care Garden, Jonathan Havens from Saul Ewing, Andrew Livingston from VS Strategies, and many others who devoted time to produce a great submission.

On May 31, I testified before the FDA and listened intently as dozens of others spoke. My takeaways were that most of the industry echoed our sentiment – that CBD is generally safe, but that safety issues do arise with adulterated products and with irresponsible manufacturing and marketing practices. I spoke about the need for consensus-driven industry standards, to include marketing and labeling practices, and for mandated lab testing. These practices will go a long way toward making certain that the industry is safe for consumers.

Concerns And Misinformation

I am genuinely concerned that there is currently great confusion in the market. People seem to think that CBD is federally legal as a result of passage of the Farm Bill of 2019. But, that is only partially true. While CBD was de-scheduled, the FDA still retains the authority to regulate the industry as a result of their prior approval of a prescription drug for epilepsy, Epidiolex. In the absence of clear regulatory guidance, people are making health claims that violate federal law. And banks and payment processors are shutting off accounts for CBD businesses because they are having difficulty assessing whether a particular business is operating lawfully.

We hope that FDA will act with deliberate speed in drafting regulations for the industry. If FDA takes its time in crafting regulations, there is danger that many CBD companies will shudder because of a lack of banking and payment processing. And we will inevitably lose market share to Canada and other international players. As always, NCIA stands ready to help.

Looking Forward

On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, NCIA will host a panel at our next trade show, NCIA’s 6th Annual Cannabis Business Summit and Expo) in San Jose, California, entitled “A look into the future: An FDA Regulatory Framework for Hemp/CBD.”

Photo By CannabisCamera.com

Learning objectives for the panel include, (1) what the FDA was interested in learning about and why, (2) understanding how our industry coalition responded to the FDA’s scientific questions, (3) predictions for how the FDA will regulate CBD/Hemp and what it might mean for cannabis regulation in the future. Panelists will include members of the coalition who drafted our public comments to FDA.

In the coming weeks, NCIA will be releasing some new policy papers via NCIA’s Policy Council – the think tank for the state-legal cannabis industry. As always, if you’re interested in joining the Policy Council or have any thoughts about how we can propel this industry, please reach out me at andrew@thecannabisindustry.org.

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