The ‘Billion-dollar Question’ for The CBD Industry Surfaces as FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb’s Announces Resignation

Within just a week, the topic of CBD has turned a whole new leaf, whether it is a good or bad turn will be determined very soon. Recently the Food and Drug Administration had planned to re-open its policies around CBD-infused drinks and food, however, to everyone’s surprise, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced his resignation.

“Dr. Scott Gottlieb was sworn in as the 23rd Commissioner of Food and Drugs on May 11, 2017. Dr. Gottlieb is a physician, medical policy expert, and public health advocate who previously served as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs and before that, as a senior advisor to the FDA Commissioner,” according to the FDA.

Since the federal government had legalized CBD in December, the FDA’s regulations still ban companies and restaurant from adding it to any food or drinks. However, marijuana businesses, food companies, and restaurants have continued to fight these policies, by releasing CBD-infused sodas, lattes, and gourmet food products hoping that in time the FDA would change or modify its plans.

Gottlieb always expressed his support for a new policy telling lawmakers last week that he had heard them, “loud and clear,” promising them that he was putting together a group of senior officials to help write the official regulations. He also added that the FDA was scheduled to hold its first public hearings in April to outline the possible changes that might be made.

Then out of nowhere, Gottlieb surprised his colleges with his step-down that would take place within the next month, some believe it will be before the meetings in April, but certainly before the policies could be re-written and placed into effect.

People within the CBD/Marijuana industry are wary about what this will do for the future of CBD; a cannabis investor said that this is the
“billion-dollar question.” He also added that he believes the outcome can go either way, but requested that he not be named due to legal reasons.

Who will be taking Gottlieb’s place is still unknown, although whoever it is will either have strong opinions about the issue or push it to the bottom of the agenda. According to the farm bill, which legalizes hemp-derived CBD also protects the FDA’s authority to regulate any products containing CBD and enforce any policies.

“In times of transition, issues like this that are not of highest priority could get delayed,” stated Jonathan Havens, co-chair of the cannabis law practice at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr. When considering the issues surrounding CBD, he said, the worst situation would be the FDA decides not to care about the issue.

Regardless of the outcome, the next commissioner will be the deciding factor when it comes to the CBD industry. Till then, it is still illegal to add any CBD to any food or drink and can result in legal consequences.