Although the cannabidiol (CBD) industry is experiencing phenomenal growth, the lack of federal guidance for ingestible products remains an obstacle. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released draft guidelines that are a precursor to future regulations that will hopefully provide the industry some direction to create safe and reliable cannabis products for consumers.
We spoke with Derek Thomas, vice president of business development over at Veritas Farms, a Colorado-based fully-vertically-integrated full-spectrum hemp oil producer, for some input on this FDA guidance.
CBD H&W: Why are FDA guidelines necessary for an already up-and-running cannabis industry?
DT: Due to the lack of federal regulations, [the industry] is very fragmented. Different states have different regulatory stipulations and procedures and quality control procedures, and, in some cases, different labeling standards.
For a fledgling industry, it’s very onerous; it’s very challenging.[Also], the bigger picture here is for the consumer. Consumers deserve to know what’s in their products. They deserve to know that there is a national framework for what quality is and what an acceptable level of safety is.
The lack of FDA regulation creates a lot of uncertainty for chain retailers as well. Retailers just do not feel comfortable carrying ingestible products yet. And who can blame them? The last thing they want is unwanted FDA attention for selling ingestible CBD.
CBD H&W: Do you feel the cannabis industry should have a high level of participation in the formation of these guidelines?
DT: FDA is aggregating opinions, and they’re doing what they can, but they’re not out in the field everyday growing crops and manufacturing in extraction facilities, and they’re not out selling it. So it’s absolutely critical for the industry to ensure they are communicating what is best for the industry.
CBD H&W: Without federal guidance, what do players in the industry such as Veritas Farms and other businesses look to for guidance to achieve high standards?
DT: It really depends on where you want to zoom in. Take labeling for example. We look at what different states are requiring and then aggregate it into a best practices. We also look at…previous new health and wellness or supplements [and] what types of regulations and standards they were held to. In some ways, it’s black and white, and, in some ways, it’s a bit of a guessing game until you get further guidance.
What it really comes down to is, in every step of commercialization, you have to, again, consider all of your fifty markets across the country, and have to anticipate what a federal regulatory hurdle might look like.
We have a very good in-house legal team that we lean on constantly. We also have an out-of-house legal team.
CBD H&W: Is there anything you personally feel should be emphasized in the upcoming federal regulations?
DT: The biggest concern goes back to consumer transparency and safety. So, I think regulations that are going to elevate both of those are critical. So that’s things like a cohesive testing apparatus nationwide and some type of standard for the reporting of the tests.
We thank Derek for his insights and hope too for more clarity soon.
Image Credit: Mayasherizl