Cannabis stocks mixed as investors parse FDA’s latest comments on CBD regulation
Cannabis stocks were mixed on Friday, as investors and company executives continued to parse comments by the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the outlook for regulation of CBD.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday announced plans to hold the first public meetings on the matter in April and offered a few hints at his thinking on the issue. Many cannabis companies are planning to launch food, drink and cosmetics lines that contain CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that is widely believed to have wellness properties, but which has not been subjected to the kind of research that has been conducted on THC, the plant’s psychoactive ingredient.
The FDA in December provided guidelines that say companies cannot move to market without its approval, but Gottlieb said he could envisage a model that would leave high concentrations of CBD to pharmaceutical companies and potentially allow smaller concentrations in food or dietary supplements.
Rob DiPisa, co-chair of the Cannabis Law Group at law firm Cole Schotz, said that scenario makes sense.
“The FDA can’t force pharma companies to go through a long process with clinical research and trials and then let someone at the gym just put CBD into a smoothie,” he said. “So, it’s good he hinted at only allowing low levels in food and drink and reserving higher levels for pharma products. That’s an incentive for them to invest in R&D.”
But Gottlieb’s comment that it may take two years or more to finalize regulations gives an indication of the likely time frame, and that’s bad news for companies who were hoping to move to market soon.
“While this is going on, everyone in the industry is charging forward but the reality is, things will be in flux for what could be a year or longer,” he said. “In this industry, the cart is kind of before the horse with the research now on the back end.”
In other developments, Vermont’s Senate gave final approval to legislation that would create a recreational cannabis market with a 23 to 5 vote on a preliminary bill on Thursday. The bill is slated for a final Senate vote later Friday, and will head to the House.
But Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, is expected to veto the bill if it passes both chambers, as MJbizdaily.com reported. Scott signed a bill last year that offers restricted home cultivation and possession of cannabis and has indicated he is not in favor of full legalization.
From Canada comes the news that just seven cannabis recalls over labeling errors and mold have been posted to Health Canada’s recall portal since the legalization of recreational weed last October, and that’s an indication that oversight is working, according to Allan Rewark, executive director of the Cannabis Canada Council, as MJbizdaily reported.
The most recent was by Aurora Cannabis Inc., which recalled two lots of products on Feb. 4 because of a labeling issue. The company said boxes of product sold as CBD caps may have mistakenly contained a bottle of THC Sativa caps, while boxes of Banana Split Hybrid may have contained Blue Dream Sativa.
The affected products, which were sold between Dec. 14 and Jan. 28, may have created unexpected effects due to higher-than-expected levels of THC.
Aphria Inc. APHA, -2.12% APHA, -1.17% was down 2%, Hexo Corp.HEXO, -0.53% was down 0.5% and Aleafia health Inc. ALEF, -3.24% ALEF, -3.24% was down 3.2%. CannTrust Holdings Inc. CTST, +3.29% TRST, +3.91% was down 0.5% and OrganiGram Holdings Inc. OGRMF, +1.19% was up 0.3%.