FDA holds its first hearing on regulating CBD

FDA holds its first hearing on regulating CBD
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held its first public hearing Friday into cannabidiol, better known as CBD, the cannabis extract that has grown popular in recent years.

The compound, which can be extracted from marijuana or hemp and is already sold in various forms, does not get people high and is promoted as a method of easing anxiety or inflammation. But the FDA has lingering concerns over the product’s marketing and seeks further information about its safety. 

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“There are important reasons to generally prohibit putting drugs in the food supply,” acting FDA Commissioner Norman Sharpless said, adding that cannabis extracts like CBD “are no exception.”

The hearing, which lasted nearly 10 hours, saw testimony from business owners, researchers, hemp farmers and consumer advocates urge the FDA to craft regulations over the substance. While many disagreed about how stringent the rules should be, many said the FDA must move fast. 

Despite existing FDA regulations banning CBD from being used in food and supplements, thousands of unapproved products have been made available, though many lack hard scientific proof.

“It’s a Wild West kind of environment right now,” Yasmin Hurd, a psychiatry professor at the Icahn School of Medicine who has researched CBD for almost 10 years told The Washington Post. “I’m inundated every day with patients wanting to know how much CBD they should take, which ones to buy. But we don’t know what’s in the stuff now being sold. … We’ve had this explosion without guidance to the public or regulation.”

Even though Congress voted to legalize hemp in December, the FDA maintains that CBD remains under government regulation, writing warning letters to companies in recent months that “illegally selling CBD products that claimed to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure serious diseases, such as cancer.”

However, a burgeoning industry that analysts project could be worth as much as $22 billion in the next five years is only continuing to grow, with retailers like CVS and Walgreens planning on selling CBD lotions and creams and burger chain Carl’s Jr. selling CBD-infused burgers. 

The FDA has so far approved one CBD-based drug that treats severe childhood epilepsy.