The Politics of CBD

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politics of CBD

Politics can be a dirty business. It’s hard to discern who is doing what, and for what reason. Let’s take a look at how CBD is playing out in the political arena. It definitely has a place in our culture. But how does it play into federal and local legislation? The politics of CBD is well underway. So, what should we expect moving forward?

Hemp

Hemp has a great deal to do with why CBD is being supported by the government. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of hemp across the United States. This is proving to be a lifesaver for farmer’s who had been growing tobacco or other crops that are dying off due to less demand.

Hemp can be grown year-round and thus, reaped multiple times. Other mainstay crops can only yield once a year. (Think corn or cotton.) Moreover, it requires no pesticides and less water. It is a win-win for a farmer, as long as they have a buyer.

Thus, the 2018 Farm Bill made industrial hemp cultivation federally legal. Obviously, the government saw a big future for hemp, or they wouldn’t have backed it in such a big way. CBD is naturally produced in cannabis. And hemp is a cannabis plant.

CBD versus THC

A great concern regarding cannabis is the compound in cannabis that creates a “high.” This, of course, is THC. Cannabis refers to both hemp and marijuana. But there is a huge difference. Whereas there are multiple strains of marijuana that have more or less THC, industrial hemp is different.

When the government legislated industrial hemp, they required that it contain less than .03% THC. Consequently, you could not consume enough in your lifetime to achieve a “high.” This is why hemp was legalized. There is no risk of “drug abuse.”

The biggest problem is that current testing for drugs, enforced by most government agencies for employees, fail to discern between CBD and THC. Thus, someone could test positive, if consuming large doses of CBD, daily, for a length of time. This is a problem.

FDA regulation

The Food and Drug Administration’s role is to ensure the safety of the public regarding both food and drugs. Needless to say, when CBD products started showing up in corner stores, and in coffee shop yummies, the government decided to step in. Whereas research is ongoing regarding CBD and its effects on our bodies, we still don’t know as much as we would like.

The FDA would like to ensure that research continues, which may be one reason why it is somewhat hesitant to intervene. Furthermore, the FDA does not regulate supplements. So, how do we ensure that the public is getting what the label on a CBD product states they are getting? There has to be some sort of regulation. But how will that impact the CBD market, and thus, the demand of industrial hemp?

Current reaction

CBD has taken off in the United States. Willie Nelson made a coffee with CBD a few years back. Ben & Jerry’s has an ice cream with CBD in it ready to market. And much to my surprise, Walmart recently reported over 4,000 CBD companies had requested to have their products on a Walmart shelf near you. That’s a lot of CBD and it is only growing in popularity.

According to a recent article in Time magazine, … the FDA hasn’t stopped the CBD boom, which leads many to believe it considers the compound safe, if not necessarily beneficial. The World Health Organization has stated that “no public health problems have been associated with the use of pure CBD,” and a mounting body of peer-reviewed evidence suggests the same.”

Additionally, that same article stated that “The farm lobby has been making its case–some two-thirds of U.S. hemp farming is in service of CBD–and both houses of Congress have issued letters telling the FDA it needs to change its approach to regulating the substance, given that the marketplace has already exploded.” We have long been subsidizing farming and it is plausible that the success of the hemp CBD market could help that. By ‘help’ I mean, if hemp was as successful as governing entities believe it will be, then we may not have to subsidize as many farmers moving forward.

Epidiolex

Last year the FDA approved a CBD-based medication for epilepsy, epidiolex. Because many of the CBD products currently marketed have the same amount of CBD as epidiolex, the general public doesn’t believe that they can’t consume the same for whatever their own personal needs might be.

However, epidiolex is a lab-synthesized form of CBD that is made in the United Kingdom. Perhaps their requirements are more stringent in England? As we are yet to have any, this would make sense. However, if the United Kingdom is this far along in CBD “production,” then why aren’t we?

The lingering question

If the WHO has publicly stated that CBD is “safe“, then why hasn’t the FDA done the same? Some analysts have claimed that the FDA may be concerned about protecting its drug approval process. This is certainly plausible.

If the FDA were to give a quick, easy go-ahead of CBD, then perhaps other natural remedies would be next. There is a huge divide between the pharmaceutical industry and herbal supplements. Many naturalists would prefer that the government keep their hands off of organic products. Fear that they may require a synthesized or watered-down version is of grave concern. Thus, leaving the public with even less than they have now.

Some believe the reemergence of natural remedies could completely undermine the pharmaceutical industry. As a result of the many deaths, overdoses and side effects of many prescription medications, this is a very valid possibility.

Politics of CBD conclusion

As of May this year, the FDA implemented a research to panel to find out as much as possible regarding CBD. The panel was given through the fall of this year to report back. It was presumed that once they reported back, regulation would follow suit rather swiftly.

Since then, it has been rumored that it may take another 3 years to implement formal FDA regulations. Unfortunately, this may ensure that a large portion of those small businesses that took on CBD would fold. Thus, eliminating much of the competition, and also the demand.

Then, where will our farmers be? Will there be enough of a demand to continue industrial hemp farming? There should be, as uses for hemp are vast and far surpass the CBD market.

The bottom line is CBD has a bright future. Likewise, industrial hemp has a bolder future still. The gravest concern is that the FDA may hold up the regulation process and stall the growth of CBD for a few years. But I don’t anticipate that they will be able to do so forever. The politics of CBD seems to be our destiny.

Politics of CBD update

10/8/19 Update: ” Twenty-six lawmakers in a coalition led by Congresswoman Shelley Pingree (D-ME) and Congressman James Comer (R-KY) approved the letter. (September 2019.) Signatories called on FDA to set up a temporary framework until a permanent regulatory regime could be established.” The below article emphasized the need for CBD regulations and the FDA’s delay in doing so. It is a huge push in the right direction to have this many congressmen come together in bi-partisanship to encourage this facilitation.

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