fda cbd hemp

The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) seems to be listening.

For the past six months, the federal agency has been bombarded with messages, urging the FDA to promptly develop a regulatory pathway for the lawful use of hemp-derived CBD (“Hemp-CBD”) in foods and dietary supplements.

Some of these messages came from Oregon’s hemp champion,  Senator Ron Wyden (D), who in two occasions has publicly pressured the FDA to act on this issue.

Back in January, Wyden issued a joint letter with Jeff Merkley (OR-D), in which the Oregon senators demanded that the agency update federal regulations governing the use of certain hemp-derived ingredients in food, beverages and dietary supplements.

At the end of June, Wyden issued a second letter to the agency in which he criticized Former Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s suggestion that it may take the agency three to five years to issue a final regulation authorizing the lawful use of Hemp-CBD in foods and dietary supplements. Specifically, Wyden explained that the regulatory confusion and uncertainties surrounding CBD could not continue much longer. To that end, Wyden recommended that the FDA adopt certain steps to streamline the regulatory process and directed the agency to issue “enforcement discretion guidance” by August 1 of this year and to follow up by issuing final rules as quickly as possible while the agency develops permanent final regulations.

In response to Senator Wyden and other stakeholders’ demands, FDA Acting Chief Information Officer, Amy Abernethy, recently announced on Twitter that:

[FDA] is expediting its work to address the many questions about cannabidiol (CBD). This is an important national issue with public health impact, & an important topic for American hemp farmers and many other shareholders.”

Abernethy went on to explain that while the agency is enthusiastic about research into the therapeutic values of CBD-infused products, it is also concerned with the need for safety.

To understand the breadth of issues and gather data on safety we have conducted a public hearing, reviewed the medical literature, and have an open public docket.”

If you recall, the public hearing to which Abernethy refers was held on May 31 and offered stakeholders a platform to share their thoughts and experience with the FDA and to stress the importance of developing a regulatory framework that would legalize the marketing and sale of CBD-infused foods and dietary supplements.

The public had an opportunity to weigh in with the FDA through July 16. Four days before the deadline, over three thousand comments had been published on the public docket. Now that the public comment period is over, the FDA will review the submitted data and anticipates reporting on its progress “around end of summer/early fall.”

Expediting the rulemaking process of CBD products will not only help clarify the legality of these products and render the cultivation and processing of hemp economically viable, it will also settle the position of many federal agencies on this issue. As we previously explained, numerous federal agencies, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco and Trade Bureau, defer to the FDA in dealing with CBD-related issues.

Whether or not the FDA meets its proposed timeline, we will continue to monitor and report on its progress.

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Photo of Nathalie Bougenies Nathalie Bougenies

Nathalie practices corporate law, intellectual property, and cannabis law, focusing on the regulatory framework of hemp-derived CBD products. She enjoys building a deep understanding of her clients’ businesses, industries, and long-term visions, and leverages her broad expertise and international background to help our…

Nathalie practices corporate law, intellectual property, and cannabis law, focusing on the regulatory framework of hemp-derived CBD products. She enjoys building a deep understanding of her clients’ businesses, industries, and long-term visions, and leverages her broad expertise and international background to help our overseas companies with their foreign direct investment into the United States and to help American companies with their overseas legal needs.

In law school, Nathalie also worked as a research assistant for Professor Eric Priest, an expert on copyright law in the U.S. and China, and served as a property law tutor, helping first-year law students solidify their understanding of this topic.

Nathalie was born and raised in Belgium and has lived and studied in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Her international experience offers a valuable perspective to clients whose lives and businesses are increasingly shaped by globalization.

In her free time, Nathalie loves to watch movies at Portland’s independent theaters, lose herself at farmers markets, attend art exhibits, spend time with friends, practice Barre3, and take day trips to the coast.