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FDA: Federal Cannabis Legalization Inevitable

November 21, 2018

Last week, the current commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, was interviewed on CNBC and made some very interesting remarks regarding federal cannabis legalization. While he was vague as to what specific actions will be taken, he did say that there is “probably going to be a policy reckoning around this at some point in the future.”

States Legalizing Cannabis

The midterm elections have given way to another three states legalizing either medical or recreational marijuana bringing the total to 33. The FDA commissioner addressed the growing trend saying that, “Obviously it’s happening at the state level, and I think there’s an inevitably that it’s going to happen at the federal level at some point soon.”

It’s a strong possibility that Scott Gottlieb could be referring to a bipartisan bill that has been proposed that would amend the Controlled Substances Act excluding states with legalized cannabis sales. However the commissioner kept his views close to the vest when asked to clarify his comments by the Marijuana Movement. “Unfortunately I don’t have anything additional to share,” said Gottlieb.

CBD FDA Approved

He did however comment on the current state of CBD sales noting that several warning letters were issued to manufacturers of CBD products claiming they were, “illegally selling products online that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure cancer without evidence to support these outcomes.” They have however, just this year, approved the first CBD medication for epilepsy and the FDA has stated that CBD products have “negligible potential for abuse” and “currently accepted medical use in treatment.”

He has expressed some concern with smoking marijuana flower as there are potential harmful effects for the lungs and developing brains. He is quoted saying that “We have approved compounds derived from marijuana, but there is no demonstrated medical use of botanical marijuana. That’s the bottom line.”

FDA Opposes Smoking Cannabis

The FDA commissioner went on to say that “All the people who are making claims around botanical marijuana—medical claims around it and around its purported benefits—those haven’t been demonstrated.” Despite his opposition to using natural marijuana for medical treatment, it is clear that with increased research the FDA is open to the idea of cannabis based products to alleviate the symptoms of certain medical conditions.

Marijuana advocates are hoping that the support of the FDA will bolster even more confidence in federal cannabis legislation that even the President has been been in favor of. Watch the full interview with FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb below.