CBD: THE REGULATIONS ARE COMING

To anyone who has been watching the CBD industry in the US over the last few years, it’s clear that the market is exploding.  CBD is everywhere from gas stations, to pharmacies, to pet stores… and this market that is expected to reach $20B by 2024 shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.   What is driving this massive growth? Massive consumer demand combined with loose to non existent regulations.

Everything changed for the hemp industry when the Farm bill passed in 2018 .  The bill rewrote the definition of marijuana to exclude industrial hemp, essentially removing hemp-derived CBD from the DEA’s list of controlled substances.  However, this didn’t make producing products containing CBD legal, or provide any clear regulations for how this market should operate.

If you can think of any product at all with CBD in it, it probably exists.  CBD Gummies, tinctures, lotions, hot sauces, lubes, beard balms, and don’t even get us started on the cornucopia of vape products being sold to consumers who are effectively guinea pigs in a giant experiment.  Granted, there’s lots of benefit that’s been demonstrated from using CBD oil such as reduction in seizures, pain relief, reduction in opiate cravings, and much more.  However – this “wild west” moment where all these innovative products are being made without regulatory oversight is soon coming to an end.  And while this might hurt some small businesses, it will be good for serious producers and end users and alike. It’s time for the industry to grow up.

A few years ago, people could barely pronounce cannabidiol (CBD).  Now – there’s tons of people interested in CBD- more than ever before.  And yet, there’s still much confusion amongst consumers and producers. Many people know that CBD is THC’s non psychoactive cousin, and most people know it often comes from hemp. But many users don’t know who they can trust.  It’s up to individual companies to self-regulate… and while there are many trustworthy outfits out there who are transparent about their test results, sources, and practices- there’s many who are taking advantage of this “free for all” moment.   And consumer protection agencies and academics are taking note. Check out this study on how widely products vary in the US and this one in the EU .  Its hard to believe that in the US in 2017 nearly 7/10 products didn’t contain the amount of CBD they claimed on their label; this is exactly why federal oversight is needed.

When products do not have the correct amount of active ingredient in them there are countless perils to the consumer – from taking too much to thinking you’ve just had CBD when actually the product you took contained none at all or even worse, something different entirely such as DXM (an ingredient commonly found in cough syrup).  Someone recently said “Lettuce is more regulated than CBD”. What this means for those on the growing, extraction, manufacturing and distribution side of the market is that the other shoe is about to drop. The “anything goes” approach that has gotten this industry to where it is, is clearly not sustainable.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a letter to the agency last month that their timeline is “fully unacceptable” and urged FDA to speed up the process.  However, since the federal government hasn’t yet release its regulations- states have taken it upon themselves to create their own regulations

).  Some states are quite stringent such as Colorado, and others such as Washington literally have no enforcement whatsoever on the extraction / manufacturing segment of the industry. This means that anyone can rent a room and make these products without any of the oversight that protects the public from bad manufacturing / extraction processes.  Considering that CBD products are now being sold in major retailers such as CVS and Walgreens, it’s quite surprising that the federal government has not rescheduled cannabis or established regulations to protect consumers.

The good news for those who are trying to run a legitimate business?  This too shall pass. The writing is on the wall for everyone who is paying attention.  The FDA held hearings recently  to get input from industry leaders about what these regulations should look like.

To anyone who doubts the change is coming… consider this – there is 1 FDA approved CBD drug right now.  This drug was created by GW Pharma, and they didn’t spend boatloads of money to NOT enforce as much exclusivity as they can on this drug.  Will there be room for “non regulated” nutritional supplements that are not considered drugs? Probably, but you can be sure that the same food safety laws that regulate the manufacturing of other consumer packaged goods in your local super market will also soon be enforced on products containing CBD.

Currently there are companies big and small –  producing CBD oil in a variety of manners, with little to no enforcement.  Clearly, this is not how mature industries work. There are standards which must be met on every aspect of the production of these products, from growing, to extraction, to manufacturing and especially labelling and retail.   If there was ever a time to invest as heavily as possible in making your CBD business as legitimate as possible, this is it. You can be sure that standard lab practices will be enforced soon on these products.

Here at CBD Inc. we are producing industrial scale extraction solutions for operators who realize that the future of hemp is here today, and now is the time to go big or go home.

For people on the extraction side, this is either great news- or horrible news.  If you have a long term interest in creating high quality products that actually are safe for ingestion and will stand up to the scrutiny of regulation, this is your time to shine.  The extra investment in high quality facilities, highly trained teams, detailed SOP’s, and professional grade extraction and manufacturing equipment is about to pay off. UL listings, GMP (Good Manufacturing Process), ASME, and other certifications are about to become the norm, not the exception.  For everyone else, it’s not too late! The added investment to “go legit” may not be cheap, but it is really the only way that the industry will mature. And you can trust that the larger players will pay for enforcement that makes their competitive advantage count. Our advice to everyone in the industry: go the extra mile to create high quality products and experiences: your customers will appreciate you for it! Here at CBD Inc. we are producing industrial scale extraction solutions for operators who realize that the future of hemp is here today, and now is the time to go big or go home.