The Future of Food Part 14: Catering with Cannabis

Earlier this month the FDA set the date of its first public hearing on food and drinks containing CBD. On 31 May 2019 the agency will consider legalizing the compound. But what impact could this have on the future of the food and beverage industry?

In a statement released on 2 April 2019, the FDA stated that they’re attempting to respond to growing interest across the country in the development of both consumer products and medical therapies that derive from cannabis. So soon, food and beverage manufacturers might be able to include CBD (wildly regarded as a natural tranquilizer and painkiller) in their products.


What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. Congress legalized CBD derived from hemp in December as part of The Farm Bill. Initially this was supposed to encourage a large surge in the number of products containing CBD. However, with restrictive FDA rules prohibiting CBD’s inclusion in food and drinks, this has failed to materialize. But perhaps that’s all about to change?

The Facts

  • 33 states authorize the use of medical marijuana, and 14 other states have medical programs that use CBD products.

  • 10 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

  • In the 2018 Farm Bill (also known as the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018), Congress removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. 

How will the FDA Respond?

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released the following statement:  

“It’s critical that we address these unanswered questions about CBD and other cannabis and cannabis-derived products to help inform the FDA’s regulatory oversight of these products — especially as the agency considers whether it could be appropriate to exercise its authority to allow the use of CBD in dietary supplements and other foods”.

It seems likely that if the FDA respond by legitimizing CBD as an ingredient in food and drink, and not simply dismissing it as a “drug”, then in the near future food manufacturers will be able to legally use CBD as a food and drink additive, and the market will undoubtedly explode.