Baby Boomers’ love affair with CBD is out in the open, and the market is smitten. Eager for a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals for the aches and pains of aging, yet leery of the heights of THC, older adults have become voracious CBD consumers. But a spate of recent crackdowns on CBD retailers in states across the country points to a potential chill in the relationship.
In New York, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has begun embargoing food products containing CBD. As reported in the New York Times, “the health department issued a statement that New York eateries were not ‘permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat.’”
In Maine, a similar crackdown by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services has sent the state governor scrambling to initiate emergency legislation to legalize the sale of edible CBD products.
And in Ohio, Cincinnati retailers rushed to remove CBD products from the shelves in advance of an embargo by the state’s Department of Agriculture, carried out with the help of the police and county health departments.
CBD currently exists in a regulatory twilight zone: a Schedule 5 substance forbidden to be introduced into food products, marketed as a drug or dietary supplement, or moved commercially across state lines without FDA approval, yet doing all of the above.
A statement issued last December by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb regarding the administration’s position on CBD, noted that a public meeting was to be scheduled “in the near future” where stakeholders could contribute their input towards the development of regulatory policy. While no such meeting has yet been announced, this new wave of enforcements and the hard line it represents is sending shock waves through the CBD industry. And Baby Boomer consumers may be wondering if CBD can be counted on in tough times.
Comments on social media today noted the irony of New York’s impounding of CBD products at the same time the state is moving towards full cannabis legalization. But these two approaches are not necessarily at odds with one another. One of the most important benefits of cannabis legalization is that it guarantees that products are laboratory tested and free of contaminants. Yet so far CBD has evaded the requirement of mandatory testing.
And so, in today’s freewheeling and unregulated market, CBD products have frequently been found to be mislabeled, contaminated and fraudulent. This can put older adult consumers, who may not have the resources to purchase premium tested CBD products, at an even greater risk than the average population.
Perhaps the current muscle-flexing by New York, Ohio and Maine will precipitate a serious and concerted effort by the FDA and other authorities to introduce a framework of standards, procedures and testing protocols for CBD and CBD products. With so much at stake along the chain of CBD supply and demand, the pressure to arrive at a workable regulatory pathway for CBD products may actually speed up this process. And this should be good news for anyone invested in this relationship.
In the meantime, it may be time for older CBD users to take a long hard look at the object of their desire. Hopefully, there won’t be any rude awakenings.