Cannabis to Face Big Policy Issues in 2021



Cannabis to Face Big Policy Issues in 2021

John Lothian News

February was a quiet news month for industrial hemp, giving us a little time to think about some of the structural issues facing the industry. Per usual, PanXchange’s monthly Benchmarks & Analysis report provided a good launching pad.

FDA (in)action

In its recent practice, the Food and Drug Administration mostly ignores the flouting of its rules against including a drug in foodstuffs or the medical claims made by certain CBD merchandisers. CBD qualifies for regulation by the FDA because CBD’s first use was in CBD-based Epidiolex, a treatment for certain rare seizure disorders. The FDA approved Epidiolex in June 2018 and has approved no other uses of CBD.

There was widespread disappointment with a report authored by FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and published in January titled Use and Safety Profile of Cannabidiol (CBD) Products. After noting how much interest there is in CBD and how prevalent its use has become, the Commissioner admitted, “We still don’t have clear answers to important questions such as what adverse reactions may be associated with CBD products and what risks are associated with the long-term use of CBD products.”

Speaking in Washington last week to representatives of state agriculture departments, Commissioner Hahn again complained about the lack of data but then also said, “We’re not going to be able to say you can’t use these products. It’s a fool’s game to try to even approach that.”

Last year the agency sent a draft of its CBD enforcement policy to the Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget for review and approval. The proposed policy, which was not published at the time, was withdrawn by the agency when the Biden administration took office. There is no known timeline for it to be reviewed.

The FDA’s slow motion on regulating CBD has got to be frustrating for PanXchange’s traders and customers as well as the rest of the industrial hemp industry. In a PanXchange survey in October 2020, seventy-one percent of survey respondents said that FDA approval of CBD as a safe food ingredient would have the greatest impact on market growth for industrial hemp. The other survey choices were enhanced certainty and better conditions for interstate trading, more clarity about the status of synthetic cannabinoids or traction in hemp’s use in sequestering carbon initiatives.