What the Farm Bill & FDA Announcement Means for CBD Products

2018 The Year of CBD

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill has removed a limited definition of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and has language that essentially gives the FDA the authority to regulate adult use products.


It is the perfect end of the year that has seen the World Doping Agency allow CBD use in sports, as well as reciprocity expanded to many states, making it easier for medical cannabis patients to travel and get their medicine nearly anywhere in the US if you use CBD.


Farmers are considering filling massive amounts of acreage with low THC Cannabis because of it’s varied uses. Beyond the potential of growing high CBD Cannabis for medical products, the Farm Bill allows the states to compete in a massive market for industrialized cannabis as well.


Despite popular belief, the primary reasons for cannabis cultivation is industrial. And though the profits from CBD derived products are attracting investors and business owners, America can now fully compete with one of the most diverse resources nature has to offer.


The United States has largely sat on the sidelines as other countries produce and profit from this valuable commodity. Low THC Cannabis can be grown to cultivate fibers for building materials or textiles; or to cultivate non-psychoactive oils for fuel; or to produce seeds as a complete food source, or cooking oil as well as be cultivated to produce specific cannabinoid profiles higher in cannabidol than THC.


The bill passing has garnered a lot of attention in most media channels because it allows the production of CBD from industrial hemp. What has earned less spotlight, is a statement released by the FDA on December 20.


FDA To Regulate CBD Products


FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement flexing the agency’s muscle in this area.  One of the more relevant statements is:


Just as important for the FDA and our commitment to protect and promote the public health is what the law didn’t change: Congress explicitly preserved the agency’s current authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act . (fda.gov)


So, the FDA has assumed regulatory control of CBD as it is being taken off of the Controlled Substances Act. The immediate impact restricts how the newly minted low-THC Cannabis can be distributed, marketed and consequently set high barriers to interstate commerce.  Businesses also cannot sell THC or CBD infused products as “dietary supplements.”


This letter sobered many business owners thinking the floodgates are open. Instead, they got a mixed signal and are unclear whether or not the planned business models are legal in the eyes of the FDA.


It is unclear how this decision affects the current landscape of products. For example, if a dispensary in a state with approved medical use follows all the state regulations to being a product mixing chamomile, rose hips and cannabis, is that product now illegal within state lines? It’s only clear products such as these are illegal across state lines. However, is this true if both states are medical use approved with reciprocity?


The Need to Regulate


Since the 2014 Farm Bill, low-THC cannabis has been approved for industrial use, and in 2016, CBD began its path to general legalization. Since then, it’s become clear that there is need for a regulating body to monitor and enforce quality controls.


In a study that viewed 84 CBD infused products, the results showed there was little consistencywith labeling and product integrity. Less than 1 in 3 products were accurately labeled, with a nearly half of products being under-labeled.


Restrictions do need to be drawn up to ensure consumers are getting what they pay for; so, I invite common sense regulations that allow businesses to grow and protect consumers.


As the industry’s growing pains continue, the safest space for consumers to go is a well-established dispensary. These have had to endure the strictest entry into business and ensure the safest products are delivered to customers and patients.



By Ryan Duffy

Ryan Duffy is a freelance writer. You can contact him on LinkedIn.