While the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s regulatory oversight, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to oversee foods, drugs or cosmetics that contain hemp or hemp products, the most popular of which is currently CBD. Meanwhile, states, farmers and other interested parties are clamoring for guidance on hemp commercialization, driven by the steadily increasing demand for CBD products among consumers who believe the hemp derivative is an effective treatment for a wide range of ailments.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb recently promised that hearings will begin in April to gather public comments before issuing new CBD regulations. Until then, the FDA will continue to evaluate CBD as a pharmaceutical substance that is unlawful in food and dietary supplements. Gottlieb recognizes the need for “an appropriately efficient and predictable regulatory framework for regulating CBD products,” but warned that it’s not a “straightforward process.”

Some observers predict that creating an appropriate framework may be a multi-year process that could require Congress to take an active role. As more states legalize hemp, however, bipartisan Congressional action becomes more likely.

Update: Hours after this blog was posted, Dr. Gottlieb announced that he will be resigning as FDA Commissioner. His departure adds yet another question mark into this uncertain situation, and may result in further delays in the FDA’s development of new CBD regulations.