WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

CBD-infused Coca Cola? FDA now says cannabinol is ‘unapproved food additive’

In September of 2017, Coca- Cola announced that it might be creating a new line of CBD-infused soft drinks due to an intensifying surge in public demand.  The company even had a specific cannabis company in mind for the possible partnership, Toronto-based Aurora Cannabis.  The new product line would offer new versions of its top-selling carbonated beverages like Coke, Coke Zero, Diet Coke, and Sprite, but it would also veer into sports drink variations of cannabinol-enhanced Powerades and bottled waters.

CBD-containing food products are nothing new.  Amazon, for example, offers a variety of gummy candies and chocolates containing cannabinol as a prime ingredient.  As recently as March 2019, The James Hotel in New York was even promoting a special menu featuring CBD-infused ice cream sundaes, spicy meatball entrees topped with parmesan cheese and pine nuts, and even tater tot side dishes marketed as the perfect way to overcome one’s fear of flying. USA Today even ran a story on the growing and fashionable eatery trend at the time. 

Related Article:  Coca-Cola in ‘serious talks’ to produce CBD-infused beverages

Yet, as the “vaping-related” hysteria continues to engulf the American mainstream media, news is finally beginning to break through the firewall of anti-vaping activism.  Public health agencies are finally acknowledging publicly that THC-containing cartridges sold on the Black Market are the likely cause of the devastating outbreak.  Now that THC, and by extension cannabis, is coming under scrutiny, the FDA appears to be targeting CBD products as its next victim of government overregulation.

Will CBD food products be under FDA attack in the very near future?

On Monday, November 25, the FDA issued a press release that is attracting somewhat limited attention. It announces the issuance of warning letters to fifteen American manufacturers of CBD oils and other products.  The FDA is accusing these companies of “using product webpages, online stores and social media to market CBD products in interstate commerce in ways that violate the FD&C Act, including marketing CBD products to treat diseases or for other therapeutic uses for humans and/or animals. Other violations include marketing CBD products as dietary supplements and adding CBD to human and animal foods.”  Those fifteen companies include the following.

  1. Apex Hemp Oil (Redmond, OR)
  2. Bella Rose Labs (Brooklyn, NY
  3. Daddy Burt or Daddy Burt Hemp Co. (Lexington, KY)
  4. Healthy Hemp Strategies or Curapure (Concord, CA)
  5. Infinite Product Co.or Infinite CBD (Lakewood, CO)
  6. Koi CBD (Norwalk, CA)
  7. Natural Native (Norman, OK)
  8. Noli Oil (Southlake, Texas)
  9. Organix Industries, or Plant Organix (San Bernardino, CA)
  10. Pink Collections (Beverly Hills, CA)
  11. Private I Salon (Charlotte, NC)
  12. Red Pill Medical (Phoenix, AR)
  13. Sabai Ventures (Los Angeles, CA)
  14. Sunflora (Tampa, FL) Your CBD Store (Bradenton, FL)
  15. Whole Leaf Organics (Sherman Oaks, CA)

Related Article:   Former FDA Chief Gottlieb: Any vape ban should ‘carve around the vape shops’

What is going largely unnoticed is the reasoning behind the FDA’s allegations.  The press release begins by stating, “Based on the lack of scientific information supporting the safety of CBD in food, the FDA is also indicating today that it cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food.”  Deeper in the document, the FDA specifically notes that CBD is an “unapproved food additive” for human or animal food products. 

“There also is no food additive regulation which authorizes the use of CBD as an ingredient in human food or animal food, and the agency is not aware of any other exemption from the food additive definition that would apply to CBD. CBD is therefore an unapproved food additive, and its use in human or animal food violates the FD&C Act for reasons that are independent of its status as a drug ingredient.”

Does this statement mean that the FDA will soon be purging the market of all CBD-enhanced food products?  Is CBD Coke already dead in the water before it even hits grocery store shelves?  Does the FDA even have the legal authority to regulate cannabis, especially since the U.S. government still officially recognizes marijuana as a federally controlled substance per the Controlled Substances Act of 1970?  How can the FDA legally regulate something that is already technically illegal? 

The answers to these questions could possibly lead to another heated debate in the public forum.  The significant difference between CBD and nicotine-based vaping, however, is public perception.  

Americans love their weed, and their elected officials tend to support their constituents’ weed-loving preferences.  Thanks largely to JUUL and its history of kid-friendly marketing practices, Americans are not as supportive of nicotine-based vaping as they are of state-legalized marijuana.  Where this new FDA stance on CBD is heading is anyone’s guess, but it’s something worth keeping an eye on. 

Related Article:   Ex-FDA Chief Gottlieb: JUUL is the problem, not adult vape shops

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