Ex-FDA chief with no record on cannabinoids is Biden pick for next commissioner

A cardiologist with no public comments on cannabinoid therapies, Dr. Robert Califf, has been nominated to take over as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

President Joe Biden made the nomination Friday, calling Califf a “steady, independent hand.”

He would replace Stephen Hahn, who headed the FDA from December 2019 until January 2021.

Califf briefly led the FDA under President Barack Obama and formerly led the agency’s oversight of medical and tobacco products.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the Califf choice could affect the hemp and marijuana industries.

The FDA has been reviewing over-the-counter CBD since 2019 but has yet to signal any change from its existing policy – that the cannabinoid is an active ingredient in a pharmaceutical drug and shouldn’t be taken without a doctor’s oversight.

Califf has said nothing publicly about cannabinoids such as CBD.

The National Industrial Hemp Council lauded the nomination as a needed step toward new leadership at the agency given oversight of consumed hemp products.

“Senate-confirmed leadership at the FDA will enhance consumer safety for cannabidiol and prime the pump to grow a hemp economy that works for everyone,” NIHC spokesman Larry Farnsworth told Hemp Industry Daily.

Califf’s nomination now awaits approval by the Senate.