By now, every gas station, bodega, tire repair store, shoeshine stand, salsa dance studio, wig shop, and sex club for furries is selling CBD products, which as we all know will quickly and cheaply regrow hair, fix your flaccid penis, end insomnia, make you taller, and cure cancer while helping you lose weight and have more energy. It might seem that CBD has crossed the final threshold into mainstream acceptance, provided of course it has no more than 0.3 percent THC. (Why 0.3 percent? Why not? Have some CBD and don’t worry about it.)
On Monday, the FDA flexed their considerable federal muscle by exercising their regulatory power, and harshing the mellow of a CBD powerhouse producer, Curaleaf, which purchased Portland-based Select earlier this year for nearly one billion dollars. Hey, you know what’s good for treating regulatory overreach when it sidelines a multimillion-dollar multi-state deal? CBD!
Curaleaf CEO Joseph Lusardi received a stern letter of warning from the FDA that addressed claims made by his company about their CBD product lines of tinctures, vape pens, topicals, transdermal patches, and products for pets. Per Yahoo Finance, the FDA said that all these products were “mislabeled drugs” and thusly were in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. They wrote that Curaleaf was “illegally selling unapproved products containing cannabidiol (CBD) online with unsubstantiated claims that the products treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, opioid withdrawal, pain and pet anxiety, among other conditions or diseases.”
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As anyone who got a letter from the government the other day, opened and read it, and said they were suckers (HT: Public Enemy), but then realized the suckers had authority, Lusardi was informed he had 15 days to make some big changes. But fallout from the letter was immediate and expensive.
You may recall that in March, CVS Health made an announcement that they were partnering with Curaleaf to carry their CBD topical products in some 800 of their stores in eight states. After news of the letter broke, CVS announced they were dropping those plans. As Yahoo notes, “It’s unclear if CVS will look elsewhere for its CBD supplies, especially with Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid following suit with cannabis products in their own stores shortly after CVS.”
Curaleaf is the first CBD producer with products in multiple states to get scrutiny and warnings from the FDA, but it certainly won’t be the last. The FDA has only approved one CBD product, Epidiolex, as a “safe” CBD product, and as Yahoo writes, “The FDA does not view cannabis or CBD as being medically beneficial. That makes additives to food, beverages, and dietary supplements, as well as claims of certain medical benefits, big no-nos in the FDA’s eyes.”