CBD has been grabbing everyone’s attention these days, specifically over the last one year after the federal government legalized hemp. The federal regulation of CBD products briefly became the focal point for a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, as officials questioned Trump’s nominee to lead the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
One of the lawmakers described his own experience with the unregulated CBD market. Senator Pat Roberts said “I have football knees”, to Stephen Hahn, the nominee before he went on to describe his personal interest in cannabidiol regulations.
Roberts, a Kansas Republican, who is also the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, explained his disappointment with a topical CBD oil that he used for alleviating his knee pain after his wife recommended it to him. But, the CBD oil wasn’t effective and failed to help him.
According to the critics of the CBD industry, the FDA has dragged its feet about issuing regulations around the sale and purchase of cannabidiol, which was legalized by the federal regulation in the Farm Bill back in December 2018.
FDA’s Stance on CBD Sales and Purchase
The FDA has been quite skeptical about the effects of cannabidiol and the widely popular medical claims it has as there’s little research to back these claims. However, there has been a significant increase in the number of studies and research in the CBD industry proving their health benefits.
Since CBD is touted for its benefits, people often believe advertisements on their social media accounts or billboards that talk about the medical wonder- CBD. This is what concerns agencies like the FDA that puts consumer safety and health as its top priority. The agency wants to ensure that consumers do not consume harmful substances under the claims of CBD.
The FDA has been warning companies to not promote their CBD based products with medicinal claims or as an alternative to licensed medications. Some of the companies that received warning letters from the FDA include Curaleaf and Root Apothecary.
Moreover, with the rising tax on legal hemp production and CBD products, it is becoming difficult for the legal CBD industry to survive, let alone drive profits. Many legal businesses are shutting down or moving to different states that have lesser tax on CBD products. This is paving way for the illicit hemp market to grow manifold and spread across the United States.
Growing Unregulated CBD Market
The market for CBD has expanded tremendously, especially over the past year after the hemp legalization Farm Bill Act. According to the Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD with a maximum of 0.3% THC per unit is legal. THC or tetrahydro cannabidiol is the psychoactive component found in cannabis plants that is responsible for making the user feel ‘high’ when they smoke weed. It tends to produce euphoria and hallucinations, which eventually is detrimental to your health.
If used for a prolonged period of time, THC can lead to permanent mental health disorders. Due to this reason, federal regulations limited the concentration of THC per product. On the other hand, CBD or cannabidiol is known for its anti-inflammatory and non-psychoactive properties. It is widely used for reducing stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and severe mental health disorders like Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy.
The only cannabis-approved medicine by the FDA is Epidiolex, an oral solution, which is used to alleviate the symptoms of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy- Dravet syndrome and Lennox Gastuat syndrome. These are most commonly found in children and drastically affect their mental and physical growth.
As CBD gained popularity, many companies started joining the CBD industry offering an array of products. Some products are in compliance with the federal regulations- clinically tested, and approved by third-party labs- and are thus legal. However, since the legal cannabis market is quite expensive, an alternate, illicit black market for CBD has also grown. Their products are not clinically approved and often contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive component found in cannabis.
A higher concentration of THC can lead to a positive drug test, as products containing THC more than 0.3% per unit is considered illegal. Consumers need to be aware of the concentration of THC while they are buying a CBD product. However, with the score of illegal companies marketing their CBD products as safe for consumption, it has become difficult to determine if a product is legal or not.