Even as the CBD market in the United States continues to explode, there is a great deal of confusion regarding CBD’s legal status.
On the one hand, the federal Farm Bill of 2018 went a long way toward legalizing hemp-derived CBD. But on the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to drag its feet when it comes to formally approving CBD products.
In response to this ongoing confusion, various parts of the hemp and CBD industries have called for clarity. And now, lawmakers are asking for clarity, too.
Most recently, New York Senator Charles Schumer has pushed for clear guidelines from the FDA.
Sen. Schumer Calls for Guidelines From the FDA
Sen. Schumer sent a letter to acting FDA commissioner Norman Sharpless. In it, he asked the agency to establish clear guidelines for CBD.
Schumer said that doing so would be a benefit to industry players and consumers alike.
Specifically, Schumer said that without clear guidelines on the legality of CBD products, many businesses are unsure how to proceed. Similarly, banks and other financial institutions reportedly remain slow to get involved with hemp and CBD companies.
Additionally, there are also concerns that consumers are being negatively affected by the lack of legal clarity.
On the one hand, the absence of FDA approval means that many CBD products are sold without being held to strict quality testing standards. Similarly, consumers often find themselves unsure of CBD’s actual health and wellness benefits.
Earlier this year, the FDA said it was working to gather research and other data related to CBD. Now, Schumer’s letter requested an update on this initiative. Specifically, the New York Senator wants an update within 90 days.
“The lack of regulation and clarity is creating a real fog,” Schumer said, according to The Post Star. “I’m launching a push to clear up the murkiness.”
CBD Lives in a Legal Gray Area
CBD currently exists in a legal gray area. On the one hand, the Farm Bill of 2018 appears to have paved the way to national legalization of certain types of CBD.
Specifically, last year’s federal Farm Bill officially defined “hemp” as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3 percent THC. Importantly, the Farm Bill removed hemp plants that meet this definition from the federal list of banned substances.
As a result, products made from legal hemp plants are generally presumed to be legal also. And that includes hemp derived CBD and CBD products.
However, at the same time, the FDA has been put in control of regulating and approving CBD products. And to date, the agency has only approved one consumer CBD product, thereby leaving everything else in a precarious position of non-approval.
Despite the FDA’s lack of action, the CBD market is exploding this year. In fact, CBD is now one of the fastest-growing segments in the broader cannabis market.
For example, a study from July 2019 reported that CBD sales growth is expected to see a 706 percent spike this year. And that trajectory is set to continue for years to come. According to the study, CBD sales are predicted to climb to $23.7 billion by 2023.