The National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) of America is taking testing and labeling standards into its own hands, as the CBD industry still has no clear direction from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Aiming to establish an accurate and consistent testing regime, NIHC plans to roll out a pilot program establishing standards for product testing protocols and laboratories, the advocacy organization announced Nov. 16. Program participants will be able to utilize an NIHC-approved label, much like the FDA issues for products it regulates.
The NIHC move comes as FDA officials continue to drag their feet on establishing a regulatory pathway for non-medical CBD as a dietary supplement and food ingredient.
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NIHC’s hope is to strengthen consumer confidence for CBD products being purchased over the counter by ensuring the accuracy of product labeling through uniform testing measures, NIHC President and CEO Patrick Atagi said in a news release.
“We’re excited for this program that we believe is going to strengthen consumer confidence, promote accuracy in labeling and, ultimately, protect the brand of hemp,” he said. “Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, consumers have been waiting for the FDA to act on CBD. Without any guidance from the FDA thus far, NIHC is stepping up to develop our own testing standards and labeling protocols that we believe will enhance consumer safety and protect the consumer’s right to know.”
The announcement came just ahead of NIHC’s planned meeting with FDA Cannabis Product Committee Chair Grail Sipes, scheduled for Nov. 17.
The FDA’s position on CBD has been—and continues to be—that it needs more research and safety data before regulating and approving the cannabinoid for non-medical purposes. A pharmaceutical version of CBD, Epidiolex, is currently approved and regulated by the FDA.
Industry stakeholders have been attempting to provide the data and reassurances the FDA seeks.
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In January 2021, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy released the agency’s official position on needing better data for a better understanding of the use and safety profile of CBD products.
“The FDA evaluates CBD just like any other substance we regulate, under a regulatory framework defined by law and with rigorous scientific evidence as a basis for both our regulatory approach and information we communicate,” they stated. “We’ve consistently communicated concerns and questions regarding the science, safety and quality of many of these products based on currently available evidence.
“We still don’t have clear answers to important questions such as what adverse reactions may be associated with CBD products and what risks are associated with the long-term use of CBD products. Better data in these areas are needed for the FDA and other public health agencies to make informed, science-based decisions that impact public health.”
While many states began passing low-THC, high-CBD medical cannabis laws in 2014, the 2018 Farm Bill’s passage—removing hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substance Act—made the FDA’s work on CBD issues particularly applicable under national law, yet the industry remains in a gray area at the end of 2021.
In establishing an accurate and consistent testing …….