With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yet to develop a regulatory framework for CBD-infused products, states are stepping in. This week, Illinois introduced new legislation that could require the testing of CBD products sold in its state.
The hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD, is sold as a supplement, promising to manage everything from anxiety and insomnia to chronic pain.
Rahul Easwar, co-founder of Chicago-based CBD-retailer LeafyQuick, says the product is everywhere.
“Gummies, edibles, we’ve got bath bombs, salts, topical lotions," Easwar says. "You name it, there’s CBD in it.”
But while some CBD shops like LeafyQuick only sell products that have been tested, there are no laws requiring that.
“We don’t obviously accept every brand that knocks on our door, and we go through a very stringent due-diligence process,” says Easwar.
And because CBD products are considered supplements rather than drugs, they remain largely unregulated.
Since 2015 the Food and Drug Administration has issued more than four dozen warning letters to firms marketing unapproved drugs allegedly containing CBD. Many did not contain the levels of the cannabis derivative they claimed to.
It’s that uncertainty about what’s in the products that prompted Illinois state representative Bob Morgan to act.
“These are products coming in from other states more often than not are not being tested,” says Morgan. “We don't know if they have heavy metals pesticides contaminants synthetic THC or something way worse.”
Morgan is pushing a bill that would require all CBD products sold in the state to pass minimum testing standards.
“We should have these high expectations, especially since people were consuming this product,” says Morgan. “These are things people are ingesting and we have to make sure they’re safe.”
If they’re not safe, the proposed law would require untested products to be pulled from shelves and online. Sellers violating the law could face stiff fines.
It’s something retailers like Rahul Easwar say is essential to the CBD business' long-term success.
“Especially retailers, more so the consumers need to demand such regulations and more stringent regulations in my opinion.”
For now, there are still no national standards for CBD testing. Morgan says until federal regulators catch it’s up to the states to take the lead.