The village of Fontana is seeking to defend its wholesome image by requiring CBD, or cannabidiol, be sold behind store counters.
The new regulation, approved by the village board Monday, seems unlikely to have much effect, however. CBD oil and CBD-enhanced products are becoming more mainstream as stigmas associated with marijuana, a cousin to hemp, the plant from which CBD is derived, diminish. CBD products are even sold in the supplement aisle of some grocery stores, such as Basics Cooperative in Janesville.
Fontana Police Chief Jeff Cates told The Gazette in July he believes in the medicinal effects of CBD, but he worries about CBD products containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
He raises a legitimate concern about the lack of regulation of CBD oil’s contents, and he makes a stronger argument for placing the CBD products behind a counter for safety reasons than for the sake of safeguarding the village’s image.
But his concern about CBD oil should apply to all supplements, from fish oils to Ginko biloba extracts. The entire sector has faced scrutiny over the years for selling products that don’t contain the advertised ingredients or that make unsubstantiated medical claims.
Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, supplement makers cannot make unproven medical claims, but many of them test the FDA’s boundaries, promoting everything from better memory to improved libido. Indeed, many of these supplements seem little more than savvy marketing ploys.
To be sure, CBD isn’t all hype. It has some known medical uses, and pharmaceutical companies have been studying its effects. The Food and Drug Administration last year approved for the first time a CBD-derived medication, Epidiolex, to treat chronic seizures. The use of CBD in a medication means CBD cannot legally be added to foods.
The FDA must sort through many questions and conflicting interests tied to CBD, and CBD’s connection to a Schedule 1 drug only complicates the regulator’s job. The FDA probably needs to take some kind of action, but it’s not clear exactly what it should do.
None of the uncertainties surrounding CBD are reason to single out CBD for special treatment, as Fontana has done. CBD isn’t necessarily more dangerous than many other supplements, and placing CBD oil alone behind a counter might create the false impression that products found in the supplement aisle are perfectly safe. Consumers should exercise the same level of caution in buying CBD as they do any other supplement.