This week, NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg sent the following letter to members and staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:
Dear [INSERT E&C COMMITTE MEMBER NAME],
As you know, unregulated cannabidiol (CBD) is increasingly popular, infiltrating the market in a wide range of products. The CBD market is one of the fastest growing retail segments in the nation, predicted to reach nearly $2 billion in 2022. As the market grows, so too do the public health concerns surrounding these unapproved and potentially unsafe products.
The National Consumers League (NCL) recently launched Consumers for Safe CBD in partnership with Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) to encourage the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take strong, effective, and prompt action to protect the public from the potential harms posed by unregulated CBD.
During your Health Subcommittee hearing on cannabis policies last week, we were pleased to hear that witnesses and Members of Congress all agreed on the need for further research into CBD products, including CBD’s interaction with other medications, dosing amounts, uses, and more. Chairman Pallone noted in his opening statement the importance of “protecting the American public from bad actors” – a key priority of Consumers for Safe CBD as well.
Additionally, Ranking Member Walden questioned witnesses about the need for more research into CBD – another priority for our effort. We agree with subcommittee members’ desire to expedite the research and approval process to ensure consumers are protected from the potential harms related to CBD products currently available online and in stores. The FDA described its recent actions, calling attention to a number of concerns surrounding CBD consumer product manufacturing, safety, and the lack of research.
In late 2019, the FDA announced it “cannot conclude” that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for its use in human or animal food “based on the lack of scientific information supporting the safety of CBD in food.” This critical GRAS determination is FDA’s only means to regulate consumers’ cumulative daily consumption of CBD. With the wide array of CBD products in the market today, as many noted during the Subcommittee hearing, it is very possible consumers could reach dangerous levels of cumulative exposure.
At last week’s hearing, the FDA also spoke to the lack of oversight of the manufacturing processes for products currently – and illegally – on the market, as well as the misleading and dangerous marketing tactics being deployed. While FDA has sent warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling various products containing CBD and as the agency continues to update consumers on safety concerns, much more needs to be done.
Recent public opinion research conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that registered voters overwhelmingly support Consumers for Safe CBD’s objective of better regulation of CBD products. The research found that 83 percent of respondents say they support allowing the FDA to evaluate and regulate CBD products. Support for regulation grows even stronger among those who have used CBD products or describe themselves as very familiar with them.
Last week, I participated in a panel discussion at the CBD Summit: A National Dialogue on Public Safety, Research and Policy, featuring various stakeholder and subject matter experts on CBD. With more than 120 industry and policy stakeholders in a packed room, we discussed the many concerns related to CBD products and expressed the need for swift FDA action.
Clearly there is tremendous interest in this product category and ensuring that the marketplace is made safe for consumers, and all eyes are on our government to play its part. The time is now.
As you consider legislation in the cannabis space, we encourage you to address the public health concerns raised by rapidly expanding yet unregulated CBD marketplace. Consumers for Safe CBD is dedicated to working with policymakers and the administration to ensure that CBD products available to consumers are tested and safe. Specifically, we are encouraging the FDA to determine and enforce safe levels of CBD in consumer products. Furthermore, the CBD content in CBD consumer products should be clearly differentiated from that in FDA-approved medicines to preserve incentives to perform comprehensive, FDA-caliber research on CBD’s therapeutic potential. We hope to serve as a resource as you work on this issue and we are happy to offer our research to aid in your efforts. We would also welcome the opportunity to meet with you and share additional insights into our research and outreach with consumers.
For more information, please visit 4safecbd.org.
Thank you for your consideration.
National Consumers League