With the hope of reducing barriers for the budding cannabidiol (CBD) industry, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has pushed for guidelines for its use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The lack of regulation and guidance from the FDA has deterred customers from CBD, as well as banking and private investment in the industry, Sen. Schumer said, particularly because many still believe CBD has the same effects as marijuana.
Despite the federal government legalizing industrial hemp — which CBD derives from — 10 months ago in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, the FDA has yet to establish guidelines for its production into value-added products like oils, lotions, edible products or its sale and consumption.
The Senate minority leader said he attributes FDA’s stagnation to staff shortages due to cuts and a lack of priority on the issue.
CBD has taken off in New York, with 14,000 acres dedicated to its cultivation and 56 of the 62 counties housing hemp farms or related operations.
Sen. Schumer said regulations and guidance from the FDA, which CBD companies have called for, could not only help the industry further blossom, but better protect consumers and clarify its possible positive or adverse affects on human health.
“The lack of regulation and clarity is creating a real fog” for businesses, Sen. Schumer said. “I’m launching a push to clear up the murkiness.”
The FDA released a statement in July saying that it has been working to answer “questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD,” including by collecting information and data through a public docket and feedback from a May 31 public hearing. In his letter to acting FDA commissioner Norman Sharpless, Sen. Schumer wrote that he wants an update within 90 days.
CBD products are legal so long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent of THC or less. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects, but the amount of it in legal CBD creates no “high” like that generated from marijuana.
People use CBD for pain management, sleep aid and mental health, among other reasons. Several studies for different uses of CBD have been conducted, but the risks and benefits remain inconclusive.
Investment banker Cowen Inc. in February reported that CBD retail sales ranged from $600 million to $2 billion in 2018, but they could reach $16 billion by 2025. Sen. Schumer said he does not believe regulation and guidance from the FDA would stop the industry from growing.
“Our businesses have a real potential, a real gold mine in front of them,” Sen. Schumer said. “The stuff is selling like crazy.”