FDA Hiring Contractor for CBD Product Analyses

As CBD’s importance becomes more apparent, the Food and Drug Administration wants to give a contract to assist in studying CBD as the agency focuses on developing regulations for products containing the non-psychoactive cannabinoid.

In a recent notice, the FDA claimed that the chosen company would support the agency by “collecting samples and assessing the quantities of CBD and related cannabinoids, as well as potential associated contaminants such as toxic elements, pesticides, industrial chemicals, processing solvents, and microbial contaminants, in foods and cosmetics through surveys of these commodities.” 

The FDA continued, discussing that the results of the studies “will not only be reported to Congress but will also be used to guide the development of future policy” and will guide them to “develop a better understanding of the quantities of CBD and associated cannabinoids and their distribution.”

The FDA further explained,

The goal will be to collect and analyze a statistically relevant number of samples, between 1,000 and 3,000. The reliability of the results will be supported by specified quality assurance/quality control processes within the study. The types of samples to be collected for these studies will include food and cosmetic products from across the United States, mainly including CBD-containing packaged and processed foods such as beverages, water, candy, baked goods, oils, and tinctures that can be added to human or animal foods, including pills, capsules, gel caps, gummies, and other forms.

This was just one month following the FDA’s report to Congress that explained the state of the CBD marketplace. The informative report showcased studies that this agency performed to analyze the contents and quality of cannabis-derived products that it had tested over the last six years.

The report responded to a mandate connected to congressional appropriations legislation last year revealed inconsistencies between cannabinoid concentrations listed on labels and the actual contents of the products. Simultaneously, the report discovered negligible evidence that dangerous minerals and metals were added to some cannabis products.

FDA CBD Contractor Requirements

Through the General Services Administration’s business opportunities site, the FDA issued this new notice highlighting specific goals the contractor will need to accomplish.

The contractor must get 1,000 to 3,000 samples of CBD-infused baked goods, oils, chocolates, candy, concentrates, capsules, tinctures, cosmetics, and other products meant for human and pet use from throughout the U.S.

The contractor must then perform analyses for CBD, THC, CBDA, THCA, and other cannabinoid content, using specific methodologies. These methods include liquid and gas chromatography. This will also involve performing an assessment of toxic elements, residual solvents, microbiological contaminants, and pesticides.

"In addition, this task order will be used to collect cosmetic samples for shipment to a third party for analysis. The purpose of these studies will be to develop a better understanding of the quantities of CBD and associated cannabinoids and their distribution. The goal will be to collect and analyze a statistically relevant number of samples. The reliability of the results will be supported by specified quality assurance/quality control processes within the study."

The applications for this contractor position were due by August 31. The FDA has been pushing to develop regulations for CBD since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and all derivatives federally.

For instance, in July, the FDA submitted a draft for CBD enforcement guidance. The White House Office Management and Budget will review this draft.

Appropriations legislation passed in late 2019 mandated the FDA to update its regulatory approach to CBD. With this being the case, it provided these updates in March 2020. This update says that the “FDA is currently evaluating issuance of a risk-based enforcement policy that would provide greater transparency and clarity regarding factors the FDA intends to take into account in prioritizing enforcement decisions.”

Federal Cannabis Research Regulation Efforts

Since then, the FDA has released some guidance in July 2020, explaining how it will conduct cannabis research for drug development purposes.

“A range of stakeholders have expressed interest in the development of drugs that contain cannabis and compounds found in cannabis. Recent legislative changes have also opened new opportunities for cannabis clinical research,” the FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner, Amy Abernethy, explained in a press release. “As that body of research progresses and grows, the FDA is working to support drug development in this area.”

The restrictions Abernethy discussed pertains to researchers because the reform will lift some restrictions on cannabis. For instance, the FDA explained that if a manufacturer is producing hemp products containing 0.3 percent THC or less, it can be used by scientists for studies. This means scientists no longer have to get their research cannabis from the only federally authorized cannabis grower, the University of Mississippi. 

In July, a spending bill for the FDA was passed, as well. It includes a provision that offers “funding to develop a framework for regulating CBD products.”

Some activists view this change in legislation as a sign that Congress is now considering the cannabis sector as a legitimate industry in need of regulation.

“More and more, cannabis provisions are becoming a normal stable of federal appropriations packages,” political director for NORML, Justin Strekal, explained to Marijuana Moment. “This bodes well for our opportunity to receive a vote on standalone marijuana legislation in the near future.”

As we see more finances being allotted towards cannabis sector regulation and oversight, we can expect the federal legitimacy to become more widespread. With these additional funds put towards monitoring the quality of CBD products, the industry will become safer.

This safety will act as a solid foundation for the cannabis sector to thrive, enabling those operating in cannabis to continue building within this budding industry.

Do you think more regulation is a good thing? On the one hand, it’s a sign that the cannabis industry will last. However, on the other hand, overregulation could be detrimental to the progress the industry has already made.

We’d love to hear your opinion on the matter.