Association of major brands calls on FDA to settle CBD ‘Wild West’

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An association of major U.S. brands has called for urgent government action on CBD regulation, warning of “the continued expansion of a ‘Wild West’ CBD market.”

The Consumer Brands Association (CBA) said that the existing labyrinth of state approaches to CBD has created conditions that allow bad actors to emerge while established, trusted brands are kept on the sidelines and consumers’ health is threatened.

“Until the federal government establishes clear, uniform standards for testing, safety and ingredient levels, this market will continue to grow without appropriate federal oversight, potentially placing American consumers at risk,” Betsy Booren, CBA’s senior vice president of regulatory and technical affairs, wrote in a letter to Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

“Smart, clearly articulated regulations are essential to providing consumers assurance a product is safe regardless of which state it was purchased in, and gives them the information they need to make informed choices,” Booren wrote.

Interest among members

CBA said it is lobbying U.S. regulators to set CBD rules because many of its members have expressed interest in the sector but are held back because the compound may not be used as an ingredient in foods, drinks and dietary supplements – although such products are commonly sold by unscrupulous companies that ignore the regulations.

The Consumer Brands Association represents more than 2,000 well-known brands such as drinks giants The Coca-Cola Company and Pepsico Inc., as well as iconic brands such as Georgia Pacific, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Morton Salt, Kellogg Company, and the Campbell Soup Company. Members range from makers of household and personal care products to food and beverage producers.

The association has long pushed FDA to take a more active approach to CBD, but started stepping up its efforts in early 2020 by first forming an internal advisory board, and then setting up a Coalition for CBD Regulation with other associations, such as the National Association of Convenience Stores.

Legislation pending

Booren’s letter to Woodcock proposes a federal regulatory framework that would protect consumers by ensuring product safety and transparency, and establish rules for product innovation and interstate commerce. That proposal was echoed in a similar letter to Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, in which CBA advocates for the funding needed to set rules, and expresses support for a pending Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act, which Wyden helped to author. That measure would bypass the FDA and allow the free sale of CBD.

“More and more it looks like we’re going to have to ask the legislative branch to step in to get a resolution on the matter,” said Jen Daulby, CBA’s senior vice president of government affairs.

Room for confusion

CBA said it found as many as 135 different CBD proposals moving through 38 states at present, opening up plenty of room for confusion. Meanwhile, according to a new CBA/Ipsos poll, on a scale of one to 10, consumers regarded their knowledge of CBD at an average of 3.3, and 74% either incorrectly assume CBD is federally regulated or have no idea if it is regulated.

“While nearly three in ten (28%) of Americans have used CBD, the current patchwork of inconsistent, and often contradictory, state regulations — coupled with the lack of research and testing — is calling consumer safety into question,” CBA said.

“Consumer Brands’ call for swift action is not about being for or against CBD. It is about being pro-consumer,” Booren wrote in her letter to the FDA. “The desire for safe, innovative products will drive market growth, but continuing to grapple with misinformation, misconceptions and misunderstandings will cripple CBD’s potential before it can prove its value,” she added.

REPORTUnregulated and Exploding: How the CBD Market Is Growing Amid a Labyrinth of State Approaches and Rampant Consumer Confusion

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