As the Centers for Disease Control continues its investigation into vaping-related illnesses, and several states consider banning the sale of flavored vape products, the Natural Products Association (NPA; Washington, DC) is warning Congress that this public health crisis may inevitably extend to cannabidiol (CBD) products, some of which can also be vaped. The amount of people consuming CBD is also greater than those vaping—one in seven adults compared to less than 1% who vape—according to a Gallup Poll cited by NPA. The lack of regulatory action from FDA regarding CBD, says NPA, goes beyond vaping CBD, to tinctures, capsules, and other CBD delivery formats. As a result, NPA says, there is a concerning lack of quality control regarding these products.
“The tragic vaping crisis makes fatally clear that FDA inaction has life and death consequences,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of NPA, in a press release. “The number of people vaping in the U.S. is miniscule compared to the number of Americans who use some sort of CBD, or what they think is CBD, on a daily basis. The problem is no one has any idea what is in these products, where they come from, or whether they contain deadly ingredients or additives. And no one knows how much CBD is healthy and at what consumption levels. That is why it is imperative for Congress to direct FDA to immediately begin its oversight and regulation of CBD products. If President Trump, Congress, and the FDA ignore this ticking time bomb, they will all be responsible for another public health crisis. Policymakers should not only address vaping but also establish a well-regulated marketplace for CBD, otherwise we’ll be back here in a few weeks or months talking about death tolls from another unregulated product.”
NPA has recently worked with Congressman Jerry McNerney of California’s 9th congressional district to include a provision in the FY2020 House Agriculture Appropriations bill that would fund a Health Hazard Evaluation for setting a safe level of CBD consumption for consumers. The Senate Agriculture Appropriations committee is still considering the legislation. It is still unclear how FDA intends to regulate CBD, following a public meeting that took place on May 31, 2019, during which FDA heard hours of testimony from both advocates and opponents of CBD and other cannabis-based products. In a statement from FDA on June 14, 2019, the agency offered no insights into how it will regulate CBD, stating only that it must evaluate the available data and take a science-based approach. Even former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, expressed frustration at the lack of progress and offered his opinions about a potential solution in an op-ed published in the Washington Post.
While the industry waits for FDA and Congress to act, the wheels of commerce continue to turn, allowing unscrupulous suppliers to sell adulterated products as CBD. This puts consumers at risk, as well as the larger CBD marketplace, despite the hard work of responsible manufacturers to legitimize and destigmatize CBD and cannabis-derived ingredients.