CBD oil-infused gummy bears, lattes and other food, drinks and dietary supplements are selling quickly even though the U.S. government says they’re illegal and local authorities have forced some retailers to pull products. The confusion has the nation’s two largest states and others moving to legalize the cannabis compound that many see as beneficial to their health.
Lawmakers in Texas and California are often in opposition, but they’re both pushing bipartisan legislation to sidestep federal law and allow sales of the compound found in hemp and marijuana. Republicans and Democrats in Congress also are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change its stance.
The FDA announced Tuesday that it will hold a public hearing in May to gather more information.
Resolving the confusion can’t come quick enough for Jonathan Eppers, who makes Vybes, a popular CBD oil-infused beverage. California health inspectors raided his Los Angeles warehouse in January and impounded $100,000 worth of the drink.
Eppers said about 50 California retailers have since dropped his product and he’s moved production to Texas. He estimates lost sales, legal costs and relocation expenses have cost him at least $500,000.
“What is going on is unbelievable and asinine,” Eppers said. “They put us in this state of limbo that’s costing us.”
Eppers and CBD fans are mystified by the legal insecurity. After all, they say, retailers in California and nine other states that have broadly legalized marijuana sell edibles and other products that get people high, though pot is illegal under federal law. U.S. officials generally have taken a hands-off approach in states where pot is legal.
The FDA has oversight of CBD because it is the active ingredient in an approved prescription drug to treat two rare seizure disorders. The agency says CBD can’t be added to food or sold as a dietary supplement because officials haven’t determined if it’s safe or effective for other conditions.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told Congress last week that enforcement is being limited to sellers who make false health claims. He says the agency recently sent warning letters to three companies touting CBD as a treatment for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia and drug addiction.
“But there are products on the market right now that, given our enforcement priorities and our limited resources, we haven’t taken action against,” he said.
Sellers and users say CBD helps with pain, anxiety and inflammation, though limited scientific research supports those claims. It’s turning up in products ranging from lotions, cosmetics and soap to diet pills, juices, cocktails, candy and drinks.
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a non-psychoactive molecule found in hemp and marijuana. Both are cannabis plants, but only marijuana has enough of the compound THC to get users high. CBD oil is extracted when the plant is processed. While hemp derivatives are essentially THC-free, CBD oil from marijuana may have very little or enough to produce a high.
Published: April 05, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News