Feds Might Regulate CBD as a Food Ingredient

The CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act (the Act) indicates that the Feds might regulate CBD as a food ingredient, and that it may lead to regulation of other cannabinoids. If the Feds regulate CBD as a food ingredient, it could seriously change the game (in a good way) for hemp CBD companies. On December 2, Congress introduced the Act, which is a bipartisan bill that would establish federal standards for food and beverage products containing hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). If enacted, the Act would:

  1. Require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate CBD similarly to any other food ingredient;
  2. Allow the FDA to regulate CBD as a food additive;
  3. Subject these products to enforceable safeguards to ensure safety and accountability; and
  4. Task the FDA with establishing CBD content limits, packaging and labeling requirements, and determining in which categories of food CBD is appropriate for use.

In a press release, U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice (NY-04), one of the sponsors of the Act, commented that:

“CBD products are exploding in popularity, but the lack of federal regulation surrounding them has put consumers at risk and left businesses looking for clarity. The bipartisan CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act will establish the clear regulatory framework needed to provide stability for business and ensure unsafe products stay off the shelves.”

In other words, the goal of this new legislation is to protect consumers, provide CBD companies with much needed regulatory clarity, eliminate bad actors and dangerous CBD products in the market, and provide stability for farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

If you follow this blog, you know we share Rep. Rice’s opinion on the need for CBD regulation. Indeed, the FDA’s failure to act has resulted in the emergence of a vast, unregulated market in which the safety of many CBD products is questionable. Most states have developed their own sets of rules and regulations for the manufacture, sale, and marketing of CBD products. This, in turn, has resulted in a patchwork of requirements that have made it incredibly difficult – if not impossible – for industry actors to ensure compliance.

So in that sense, the Act is great news – in fact, it is supported by some major industry leaders, including Consumer Brands Association and U.S. Hemp Roundtable. But what is worth noting here is the narrow scope of this legislation. Unlike other federal legislations that have been introduced these past few years, including the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act (S. 1698) — which proposes to legalize the use of hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, in foods and dietary supplements — the Act only addresses the regulation of CBD, which is one of many hemp-derived cannabinoids sold on the market.

It will be interesting to see how these federal bills progress through Congress (if at all) and whether federal lawmakers ultimately legalize the use of all hemp-derived cannabinoids or only a few in finished products intended for human consumption. We’ll continue to monitor these issues and will report on future developments.