The FDA Is About to Issue New Regulations for CBD-Infused Food and Dietary Supplements
It's been four years since the US government legalized hemp and CBD.
Published on December 29, 2022

CBD-infused food has long existed in a vaguely-regulated space in the United States, but it looks like things are about to firm up now that the Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to publish suggestions on how the cannabinoid is to be presented in edible products.

On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the federal agency’s principal deputy commissioner Janet Woodcock said that, “Given what we know about the safety of CBD so far, it raises concerns for FDA about whether these existing regulatory pathways for food and dietary supplements are appropriate for this substance.”

Woodcock has been heading up the FDA’s considerations of cannabis regulation since May. The review, officials say, will take place over a matter of months.

Currently, there is a bit of legal chaos surrounding CBD food and vitamins. As many readers will know, hemp was federally legalized in 2018 by the US Farm Bill—and to be specific, any hemp-derived cannabinoid with a delta-9 THC level under 0.3%. Tinctures and CBD flower are in the clear vis a vie these rules, but there was zero language in the bill about the legal status of CBD food and vitamins.

Let’s also keep in mind that this “legalization” has not been enough to protect all federal employees who use CBD. Just this fall, the Denver office of the FBI announced that it was not offering employment to users of the cannabinoid. And good luck to you if you’re trying to serve in the Armed Forces or as a commercial pilot as a user of any kind of CBD product.

States have largely been left to their own devices to hammer out the fine points of hemp regulation. In some, CBD food and vitamins have been explicitly legalized, but at the federal level they remain unregulated—though the FDA has specified that brands must present the supporting results of clinical trials if they are to put claims of therapeutic benefits on their wares. That’s put many producers, particularly those looking to sell their products in other states, in a major bind.

So maybe this announced FDA investigation could be a good thing for people making CBD snacks and supplements?

FDA officials said they have particular concerns over the effects of the daily use of CBD, how its consumption could impact pregnant people, and what it means for individuals’ ongoing fertility.

Given the many claims over the health benefits of CBD, firming up these details would be a major boon for consumers of the cannabinoid, as well as individuals who are living with a variety of health conditions. Recent studies have suggested that CBD can be safely and effectively employed in the treatment of major symptoms of dementia. Research has also been done on the potential effects that the cannabinoid could have on risk of being infected by the COVID-19 virus, and even in the treatment of the bug.

Follow Caitlin on Instagram, and catch her Spanish-language podcast Crónica on Spotify and Mixcloud.

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Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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