FDA hits CBD market

FDA cracks down on popular CBD products based on limited evidence

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

Is CBD legal or what? I hear the feds are cracking down on CBD distributors.

CBD is legal, but with legalization comes regulation—and you know how it goes. Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to 15 different CBD companies. According to the FDA’s press release, these companies are “illegally selling products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).”

The FDA also released an online “What you need to know” pamphlet about CBD and the various rules and regulations. This is gonna sound weird coming from me, but the FDA may actually have a point. Buying CBD products from unregulated businesses is a good way to end up with contaminated goods or something that doesn’t even have CBD in it. The FDA also says the manufacturers can’t make any medical claims about the efficacy of CBD and reminds people that while CBD isn’t illegal, the FDA has approved only one CBD-based drug (to prevent epileptic seizures in children); all other applications have not been federally approved. Also, federal regulations prohibit adding CBD to foods, so all you CBD-infused coffee shops and bakeries should pay attention.

As CBD becomes more popular, it receives even greater scrutiny. Where the FDA used to place CBD in the “Generally recognized as safe” category, it is now concerned about things such as how CBD interacts with other medications, if CBD is bad for your liver, what are the cumulative effects and a bunch of other stuff. Half of me thinks the agency is overreacting a little, while the other half of me thinks the FDA should overreact a little. Because while I believe CBD to be an incredibly useful and relatively benign chemical, no drug is completely safe from side effects and there are so many “fly-by-night” companies offering snake oil. So don’t worry about the feds taking your CBD from you, but please make sure you are getting your CBD from a trusted and tested source.

I live in a county where weed is still illegal. Can I get it delivered to my house?

You can, but a bunch of cities and counties are trying to stop you. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, more than a few counties (Fresno and Santa Cruz, I’m looking at you) have filed a lawsuit challenging the regulations that allow cannabis deliveries in places that continue their backward prohibition policies. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a motion to join a lawsuit brought by a Salinas-based delivery company that has been banned from delivering in Santa Cruz. It’s good to see the state working to expand access to legal weed. They kinda have to since the black market still makes way more money than the legal market. Way more, like $8 billion more. Hopefully, the state will prevail (I can’t believe I just said that) and statewide legalization will actually be a thing.