The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made waves last month when it announced that it would not be crafting rules to guide the cannabidiol (CBD) industry after all.
Instead, it is “prepared to work with Congress on this matter,” because a “new regulatory pathway for CBD is needed that balances individuals’ desire for access to CBD products with the regulatory oversight needed to manage risks.”
The FDA said for years that it was working toward regulations for CBD, and as such, many cannabis advocates and industry stakeholders expected that rules were imminent. Now, a particularly partisan and dysfunctional Congress has been handed the task, and it comes on the heels of the last Congress’ inability to agree upon just about every cannabis policy priority in 2022.
So, now that the future of the CBD industry is in the hands of members of Congress, one question is: which companies and organizations have been lobbying on CBD?
Cannabis Wire conducted an analysis of recent lobbying disclosures and found several major companies and organizations related to tobacco, alcohol, convenience stores, and dietary supplements have zeroed in on CBD as a priority.
With that in mind, here are some of the entities that lobbied Congress on CBD in the fourth quarter of 2022.
• Altria (maker of Marlboro cigarettes) registered to lobby on the “Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act” and on “Discussions concerning federal appropriations policy related to Food and Drug Administration clarity on CBD.”
“Although hemp-derived CBD was removed from the Controlled Substances Act in 2018, the regulatory status of CBD products in the US lacks clarity. Altria is working with policymakers to find prompt, comprehensive and pro-consumer solutions that address the regulatory uncertainties surrounding the US CBD market,” Altria spokesperson David Sutton told Cannabis Wire.
• American Herbal Products Association (association members include Celestial Seasonings and Aveda) registered to lobby on “Hemp-Derived Cannabidiol (CBD) regulations,” and on the aforementioned Act.
“The law clearly provides an opportunity for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to grant an exception to the prior drug exclusion for cannabidiol. As we have expressed for nearly half a decade, the American Herbal Products Association wants to see FDA use that authority to have CBD products come to market as any other dietary supplement would,” AHPA President Michael McGuffin told Cannabis Wire. “We believe FDA should regulate CBD like any other herbal constituent – including by subjecting manufacturers of CBD dietary supplements to generally applicable regulatory controls such as those requiring good manufacturing practices, facility registration, and serious adverse event reporting.”
• Convenience Distribution Association (board includes representatives from companies like General Mills, Mars Wrigley, and Altria) registered to lobby on “Hemp-Derived Cannabidiol (CBD) regulations,” and on the aforementioned Act.
• Council for Responsible Nutrition (council members include Unilever, Bayer, the Clorox Company, and Canopy Growth) registered to lobby on “language concerning the appropriation of additional funding for FDA for research, policy evaluation, market surveillance, issuance of an enforcement discretion policy on hemp-derived Cannabidiol,” on “Policy initiatives on hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), supporting actions that will lead to a legal and regulatory pathway to market for hemp-derived CBD products, pertaining to dietary supplements,” and on the aforementioned Act.
CRN has “called on FDA to act since 2018 to establish a federal regulatory pathway for hemp-derived CBD to be marketed as a dietary supplement ingredient,” president and CEO Steve Mister told Cannabis Wire.
“Given the agency’s inaction over the past four-plus years, CRN’s priorities concerning CBD will focus on driving congressional action in developing a legislative solution,” Mister added. “As a patchwork of state legislation has cropped up in attempts to fill the void, CRN has advocated for those hemp-derived CBD regulations to be consistent with the federal approach for dietary supplements. CRN looks forward to the opportunity to ramp up engagement with bi-partisan legislators in Congress to get the job done to establish a regulated CBD marketplace that works for consumers and the responsible companies marketing CBD.”
• Jazz Pharmaceuticals (maker of Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved CBD-based drug) registered to lobby on “Health and Human Services pertaining to CBD policies,” and “Appropriations issues related to House Ag/FDA Appropriations bill pertaining to FDA enforcement of non-FDA approved, cannabis derived CBD products; Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (PL 117-328).”
“Jazz remains committed to researching, developing, and commercializing cannabinoid-based medicines that meet unmet patient needs. We believe patients and their families are best served by medicines that have been proven safe and effective through a robust drug development program and are manufactured to the highest standards to ensure consistent quality and identity. We will continue to educate policy stakeholders on the important work we’re doing and the need to facilitate more drug development from the cannabis plant to serve patients,” a Jazz Pharmaceuticals spokesperson told Cannabis Wire.
• National Beer Wholesalers Association registered to lobby on “Issues related to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the regulatory oversight of cannabidiol (CBD) products,” and on the aforementioned Act.
“NBWA stands ready to work with the FDA and Congress to provide insights from alcohol regulation to help guide the federal treatment of marijuana and CBD and provide needed clarity. Since the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, there has been considerable confusion in the marketplace about the legality of products containing CBD,” Erin Donar, an NBWA spokesperson, told Cannabis Wire. “As Congress and the Administration focus on the federal oversight of the cannabis industry, protecting the consumer and maintaining the integrity of the existing alcohol regulatory structure remain central to beer and beverage distribution industry.”
• RAI Services Company (subsidiary of British American Tobacco) registered to lobby on “issues related to the legalization and regulation of cannabidiol (CBD).”
“The U.S. plays a key role in BAT’s ‘Beyond Nicotine’ Strategy, supporting our purpose of A Better Tomorrow. We will continue to explore and invest in spaces beyond nicotine as we evolve into a high-growth, multi-category consumer products company,” a Reynolds spokesperson told Cannabis Wire.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comment from Altria.