A look inside 70-year old research and how the FDA should respond
Over the past two decades, since California legalized medical marijuana cannabis in 1996, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had the chance to monitor the use of Cannabis and its effects on human health. Though still federally illegal, the FDA claims to not take a stance for or against the plant, because it is out of their jurisdiction (since it’s a federally controlled Schedule I Narcotic). But in 2014, with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which federally legalized hemp for commercial research purposes, the floodgates opened for hemp-derived CBD, forcing the FDA to take notice.
Though still wishy-washy on the subject, the FDA took little regulatory action besides dropping a few warning letters on an industry giant and a couple medium-sized companies, mostly for medical claims and adulterated products.
After the 2018 Farm passed on December 20th, 2018, while the world was celebrating the long-awaited legalization of a 27.8 million year old plant, the FDA released a statement saying CBD was not an approved dietary supplement and the only legal hemp products were hempseed oil, hemp protein and hemp hearts which had officially received GRAS status (Generally Recognized As Safe).
Did that stop the hemp/CBD/cannabis train? Hell no. It carried on while the FDA continued to skirt around the industry, saying nothing regarding the outstanding medical claims across the high-THC medical cannabis market, and cracking down very little against the federally legal CBD and hemp market.
More warning letters were sent to a few bad actors (thankfully) and a public comment session was held, including a public hearing, where the FDA heard from the industry about its use. Now, the FDA sits on their hands as they shuffle through, some scientific, but mostly, anecdotal evidence relating to the cannabis plant.
Is cannabis deserving of sitting next to heroin as the most dangerous plant in the world? Absolutely not.
The gold rush mentality in a grey market has fostered bad actors over good, but even with all the bad actors, we have experienced few quantifiable negative effects of cannabis products.
And the negative impacts pale in comparison to other legal and non-legal drugs, many of which are in the FDA’s direct control as pharmaceuticals.