The outgoing head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Scott Gottlieb has suggested it could take several years for the agency to come up with rules around allowing hemp-derived CBD in food products—unless Congress steps in.
The FDA recognizes that there’s strong interest among the cannabis industry and lawmakers in developing a regulatory framework through which CBD from hemp could be extracted, sold and introduced into the food supply. The problem according to Gottlieb is that CBD didn’t previously exist in the food supply, and it exists as a drug under the statute.
“It can’t just be put into the food supply,” he said, arguing that current law only allows the FDA to “contemplate putting a drug that wasn’t previously in the food supply into the food supply if it goes through a rule making process.”
That rule-making process can take two to three years for conventional products, and so because CBD is “more complex”—due to its association with marijuana, it could theoretically take much longer to develop those regulations.
In the meantime, the FDA is putting together a “high-level work group” that will work to identify “some potential legislative pathways might be to create a framework for allowing CBD into the food supply.”
Gottlieb said he expects the group to release some recommendations by the summer, as Business Insider first reported.