Pharma company, supplement chain retailer weigh in on CBD during White House meetings

As the hemp industry awaits guidance from food and drug regulators on whether CBD will be permitted to be used as an ingredient in food and dietary supplements, the White House Office of Management and Budget continues to meet with companies and industry advocates to gain insight.

In recent weeks, two of those meetings discussing the future of cannabidiol were with CBD drug maker GW Pharmaceuticals and chain retailer General Nutrition Centers (GNC), Cannabis Wire first reported.

UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals was the first company to obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its epilepsy medication Epidiolex. Its U.S. subsidiary Greenwich Biosciences is lobbying for CBD regulations in all 50 states and at the federal level.

Stephen Schultz, GW Pharmaceuticals vice president of investor relations said the company reiterated to the OMB that any approval of cannabinoid medications or cannabinoid products in consumer goods should be based on scientific evidence.

Schultz said GW Pharmaceuticals supports regulations that “encourages more research and development of FDA-approved, cannabis-derived medicines, provides adequate safety protections for consumers ingesting foods and dietary supplements and distinguishes FDA-approved medicines from consumer-focused products.”

GNC, a Pittsburgh-based national supplement retailer, aims to sell CBD alongside its other nutritional products. Lobbying firm Parry, Romani, DeConcini & Simms represented GNC, the CBD Industry and Plexus International in a meeting with the White House OMB.

The firm’s president, Romano Romani, said his clients want the FDA to “withdraw its position that CBD violates the exclusionary clause.”

Romani said that the clause protects GW Pharmaceuticals’ product Epidiolex from competition from supplement makers and that despite making CBD supplements illegal, the FDA is not blocking the thousands of CBD products currently on the market.

Meanwhile, retailers like GNC that want to get into the market are holding off because they don’t want to sell an illegal, unregulated product, and they want the FDA to take action, Romani said.

The meetings between the White House OMB and the hemp and CBD industry are part of the process involved in developing guidelines for CBD. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration submitted draft industry guidance to the White House in July. That same week, the office also released draft guidance on cannabis drug development.

There’s no deadline for the CBD policy to be announced. Once the OMB signs off on the FDA’s draft guidance, it will be published on the Federal Register and opened for public comment before taking effect.