Everything you eat, everything you drink, and every medicine you take is (ostensibly) regulated by the FDA. The Food and Drug Administration oversees roughly one trillion dollars worth of products every year in America. The agency employs over 14,000 government workers, so its impact is vast and varied.
But how current is the FDA when it comes to the benefits of CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the cannabis plant. It does not produce the “high” often associated with THC, which is also derived from cannabis. In fact, CBD can be extracted from hemp, a cousin of marijuana.
With all of the reasons why CBD should be celebrated, you would think that the FDA would be its biggest champion. However, the federal agency is choosing to sit on the sidelines for the time being. Let’s take a look at where they are and where they have room to improve…
WHAT IS THE FDA, ANYWAY?
At the turn of the 20th century, mass food production dovetailed with the spread of the Industrial Revolution. Major corporations were thriving, but were their consumers? In 1906, Upton Sinclair changed the way we perceived our meals with the publication of his exposé The Jungle. Readers responded with horror and indignation. That same year, President Teddy Roosevelt signed the Pure Food and Drug Act into law.
The FDA had found its purpose, and they charted several victories over the decades that followed. Thalidomide was a popular drug in the late 1950s, claiming to suppress morning sickness in pregnant women, but the truth was much more sinister than that. The FDA prevented the sale of thalidomide in the United States in 1960. The drug was inducing birth defects on a massive scale, so the FDA stepped in to save the day.
Fast-forward half a century. The opioid crisis has killed 400,000 Americans in the past two decades. Where is the FDA now? Why have they remained largely silent on the disastrous effects of prescription drugs? This raises a lot more questions than there are answers.
MIXED MESSAGES, SLOW PROGRESS
The FDA has finally approved the use of CBD, but the scope of this approval is narrow, to say the least. In 2018, the agency announced its blessing of Epidiolex, a drug designed to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are two severe forms of epilepsy, and CBD has proven to alleviate some of their most disruptive symptoms.
“This approval serves as a reminder that advancing sound development programs that properly evaluate active ingredients contained in marijuana can lead to important medical therapies,” says Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “The FDA is committed to this kind of careful scientific research and drug development.”
While these words are promising, they do not comport with the FDA’s official stance on CBD use. Their statement indicates an ability to definitively characterize the compound. Is it a breakthrough cure for epilepsy or a potential hazard to developing minds? The FDA seems unsure.
Perhaps they are still basking in the glow of their brush with thalidomide over 60 years ago. The FDA once stood for a voice of stability and security. They served a vital role in defending expectant mothers against opportunists who wanted to exploit their discomfort for an easy buck. The FDA stepped in and minimized the potential damages that thalidomide could have wreaked on an entire generation.
But that was then, and this is emphatically now.
Questioning the potential benefits of CBD while simultaneously approving its use to treat epilepsy is an odd (non) position to assert. The FDA is clouding the horizon of healthcare, so we turned to another authority for clarity and answers.
NIDA WEIGHS IN ON CDB
In the face of the FDA’s indecisiveness, the Director of NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) voiced her opinions regarding CBD. “Besides the trials of Epidiolex,” writes Nora Volkow, “there are already many studies of CBD for other disorders being conducted, including at NIH [National Institutes of Health]. Studies related to its possible use in the treatment of substance use disorders are being funded by NIDA, while other NIH Institutes are funding work on the potential of CBD and other cannabinoids in treating neurological and psychiatric disorders, disorders of the immune system and metabolism, and cancer.”
Bringing it home, Volkow concludes, “CBD appears to be a safe drug with no addictive effects, and the preliminary data suggest that it may have therapeutic value for a number of medical conditions. Addressing barriers that slow clinical research with CBD would accelerate progress.” This last line appears to be a direct dig at the FDA, which represents the ultimate barrier to exploration, discovery, and innovation in the field of CBD application.
OUR TAKE ON FDA AND CBD
We applaud the FDA’s past efforts to regulate potentially harmless materials. In fact, we are picking up their baton and running with it. At HUGS, we insist upon 3rd party lab testing to ensure that each of our products meets our high standards.
From our delicious Full Spectrum Tinctures to our Broad Spectrum CBD Gummies, we use Colorado hemp to strike the perfect balance. You can enjoy the benefits of CBD without worrying about THC interference.
At HUGS, we believe in accountability. We stand by our products because we stand up for our clients. The FDA has served its purpose as a consumer watchdog of years past, but now it’s time for all of us to have each other’s backs. Together, we can progress beyond the limitations of fear to arrive at the possibilities of our collective bravery.