Federal Regulation Is Finally On The Horizon

While the FDA is still slow to answer the call for regulation, USDA made a significant move and published its interim rules for domestic hemp production, CBD specifically, within the Federal Register.
Written by 
Trista Best, Registered Dietitian.
|Last Updated:

CBD, short for cannabidiol, has become a household name over the past couple of years as the industry has grown at a rate, not even the industry leaders expected. As with any product, when growth happens before expectations are set a door of potential dangers opens up and the market can become somewhat of a confusing and scary place.

The result of CBD having little to no regulation from any governing body, specifically the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), manufacturers are left to guide themselves through the process. They are navigating aspects of manufacturing from formulations, harvesting, dosing, and just about everything in between from seed to sale of CBD products.

This also leaves room in the CBD industry for manufacturers who are less concerned with quality than they are with profit. Here you find unintentional but dangerous additives, products with little to no CBD and more than legal THC, which is 0.3% or less.

The Feds Finally Answer

From the veteran cannabidiol enthusiasts to top government officials there has been a call for regulation practically since the industry began. This currently unregulated industry is expected to reach $13 billion dollars in sales this year alone, this is likely the only sign the government needs that stepping in is necessary.

With no federal government regulations, individual states have been left to create their own laws and regulations on CBD products. Anyone can see the inconsistency this would bring and the lack of understanding of this product from a law-enforcement perspective has led to some serious issues.

The 2018 Farm Bill removed the controlled substance classification of industrial hemp and hemp products. But since then the government’s part in regulating this industry has been stagnant.

That is until October of this year when the USDA made a significant move by publishing their interim rules for domestic hemp production, CBD specifically, within the Federal Register.

Some of the more strict, but necessary, provisions of this regulation call for delivery of hemp samples to the DEA for certification in their labs 15 days before the product is harvested. This will assure several things, but mainly that the product is low THC and free of dangerous substances.

The FDA is still slow to answer the call for regulation. Their October statement regarding CBD was essentially that they are still exploring pathways to regulate these products. It is hopeful that with the USDA taking a step forward and the Grocery Manufacturers Association pushing them, the FDA will make a definitive statement soon.

The Why Behind the Call for Regulation

Your initial thought maybe, why would anyone want more government regulation? In the case of CBD regulation would benefit the user, the manufacturer, and the government.

Having guidance on creating a safe product, CBD consumers are less likely to purchase and use a tainted product and more likely to obtain a product that has enough active ingredients to be effective. The high-quality manufacturer benefits through increased sells as customers see that their higher price likely means better quality. The industry is less saturated with CBD products that are cheap and purchased moreover theirs. The government benefits by improving the safety of its citizens.

Creating regulation allows for a legitimate, stable, and trustworthy national marketplace. While states have been having to awkwardly regulate the sale of these products, specifically across state lines, the market will become more easily nation-wide.

Claims will become more solidified. Manufacturers have essentially be allowed to make extravagant claims as to all the CBD can allege do for health. While many of these may be true, without adequate studies it is misleading and dangerous to make medical claims. The regulation will bring more strict rules and consistency regarding such claims.

What Will Regulation Do?

Consistency, safety, and security are all byproducts of industry like CBD receiving guidance from the government. Researchers will have access to better research grants and more can be discovered about how this compound can improve health.

Hemp farmers will have access to federal aid much like that of other farmers. This includes easier access to loans, insurance, and even marketing. Before you become defensive as to why the government would help marijuana farmers it is important to know – Hemp and Cannabis are different. Industrial hemp is grown for the purpose of clothing, food, and products like CBD that contain little to no THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. It can not get anyone high.

With government regulation on the horizon, it is hopeful that the industry will become more stable, quality will increase, and consumer safety will increase.  Most industries would ward off additional government regulation, but for the CBD industry, it is vital for its longevity.

Trista Best
Trista Best
Registered Dietitian
Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian, Public Health Dietitian, and former college Nutrition Professor. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2009, Masters of Public Health Nutrition from Liberty University in 2014, and Bachelors of Science in Food and Environmental Sciences from the University of Alabama in 2018. Her dietetic background is in Public Health, Medical Grade Supplements, and Childhood Nutrition.

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