This is my take on FDA and CBD:

1) FDA accepted Hempseed Oil as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) per DSHEA (GRN 778 on December 20, 2018). 

2) FDA has long known of the presence of cannabinoids in hempseed oil, studies show as much as 225 ppm THC, and since Hemp is usually at least 20:1 CBD:THC, that means at least 4,500 ppm CBD, or 0.45%. (The resin adhering to the outside of the seed shell contains cannabinoids. That resin is so difficult to remove that HIA sued DEA over it and won in 2004.)

3) Congress was aware of the presence of cannabinoids in hempseed oil when it approved 3,000 ppm max THC in the 2018 Farm Bill, meaning at least 60,000 ppm CBD, or 6.0%, is possible. Many studies going back decades show the presence of THC in many hempseed oils, and FDA knew this when it approved GRN 778.

4) In 2004 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that since THC is a natural constituent of hempseed oil and cannot be easily removed, it was legal for hempseed oil and foods to contain undisclosed THC, and also permanently enjoined DEA from enforcing the CSA on hemp products. That ruling could rationally be considered to apply to CBD from hemp. It also ruled Congress never Scheduled any natural cannabinoid. The ruling, binding nationally, pierced the government’s “zero tolerance” THC stance. Undisclosed THC was then “legal” in hempseed oil and hemp foods, and today are found in almost every grocery store in the country. If a crackdown on CBD in foods is anticipated, start with hempseed oil. At least CBD products have pro-consumer disclosure like FDA prefers.

5) By approving hempseed oil as GRAS knowing it contained cannabinoids including THC and CBD, FDA therefore also approved as GRAS all of the constituents of hempseed oil, including cannabinoids. The parts making up the whole are inseparable from the whole; if the whole is GRAS then so are the parts, including cannabinoids. 

6) Both Congress and the Courts decided cannabinoids are not worthy of disclosure on labels of hempseed oil, and FDA knew it but never demanded disclosure. It can’t now claim the thing never needing disclosure before is suddenly separate from the whole and in need of new regulation, after millennia of use. For decades FDA had one opportunity after another to regulate undisclosed THC or CBD if it was a cause of legitimate concern for drug test interference or legality, yet time and again it refused. Not even when issuing GRN 778 did it make restrictions or exclude cannabinoids from it. FDA knew full well it was giving GRAS status to cannabinoids when it approved GRN 778.

7) Therefore, cannabinoids including but not limited to CBD and THC are GRAS under GRN 778.

This article originally appeared on and was published with permission.

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