CBD importation still risky due to lack of clear FDA guidelines; Legislature to hold hearing on CBD importation

The U.S. Navy has prohibited the use of products made or derived from hemp, including cannabidiol (CBD), regardless of the products' THC concentration.

Although Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has already ordered the release of cannabidiol (CBD) products confiscated by Guam Customs and Quarantine, future importation of these products by island businesses remains a risky proposition as the Food and Drug Administration continues to lag in coming up with a clear CBD policy.

Only a few weeks ago, the FDA reiterated its position that it is illegal to put into interstate commerce any CBD-infused food or dietary supplement. Moreover, since CBD is also considered a drug, the FDA said the usual drug approval process, which is usually a long and meticulous process, must be applied to CBDs as well.

In a release, the governor stressed that only one CBD prescription drug has been approved by the FDA and that no other CBD products have been approved by any local or federal regulatory body for safe consumption.

Moreover, although cannabidiol is no longer considered a controlled substance under federal or local law, the governor said Guam must still adhere to other laws that regulate it even as GovGuam continues to work with federal regulators on CBD guidelines which the governor has described as “vague” and “uncertain.”

The FDA, pursuant to its authority under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), has made it clear that it will not tolerate the use of CBD in dietary supplements. It has even prohibited the introduction of some CBD products in interstate commerce.

“I want to thank the directors of the Customs & Quarantine and Public Health for their diligence on the issue of CBD products on our island. I also want to thank retailers and consumers for their patience as we work through the complex and changing regulations governing CBD,” the governor said.

She said Office of the Governor, the Guam Customs & Quarantine Agency (GCQA) and the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) will continue to work together in ensuring that local and federal laws and regulations are being followed. She added that GCQA will continue to monitor the importation of controlled substances and illegal products.

When issues arise, the governor said GCQA will continue its attempts to comply with the FD&C Act and give the FDA reasonable time to respond. GCQA will also act accordingly based on the FDA’s response, or lack thereof. GCQA director Ike Peredo had stated that he could not release the confiscated CBD shipments because the FDA had still not responded to his inquiry.

Adding to the risk for CBD importers is the instruction that DPHSS will ensure that CBD products, both edible and not, are not marketed for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and/or for the intent of affecting the structure or any function of the body. Most of the CBD products sold on the island have one claim or another about the benefit of CBD products on a person’s health or well-being.

According to the governor, this is not a new mandate, nor is it specific to CBD products because it is a staple responsibility of DPHSS to ensure that the general public is not impermissibly swayed to consume or use products based on unsubstantiated promises.

“We appreciate the time and attention the Attorney General’s Office devoted on this matter, as well as their guidance. We agree that it’s important for all stakeholders to carefully consider the legality of their actions under both local and federal laws, but we are also mindful of the community’s interest in these products as they search for alternatives in the management of health-related issues,” the governor stated.

Attorney General Leevin Camacho earlier discouraged the bringing in of CBD products into Guam until clearer guidelines from the federal government on CBD safety and interstate commerce are released.

“I look forward to Congressman Michael San Nicolas joining other members of Congress to push federal regulators to finalize and synchronize their rules and regulations. The vagueness on the federal level has put all States and Territories, not just Guam, in this state of uncertainty with regard to public health and safety,” the governor said.

CBD informational briefing

Meanwhile, the Legislature’s Committee on Economic Development, Agriculture, Maritime Transportation, Power and Energy Utilities, and Emergency Response will conduct an informational briefing on the importation of cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp products on Tuesday, July 16, 2 p.m. at the public hearing room at the Guam Congress Building.

On the agenda are the following:

* Office of the Attorney General – Legal interpretation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“2018 Farm Bill”) on the importation and regulation of CBD and hemp products;

* Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency – Procedure and process of handling imported CBD and hemp products;

* Department of Public Health and Social Services – Procedure and process for enforcement of Federal Drug Administration (FDA) rules and regulations applicable to labeling of CBD and hemp products;

* Department of Agriculture – Regulation of CBD and hemp products;

* United States Department of Agriculture – Regulation of CBD and hemp products;

* United States Postal Service – Mailability policy for CBD and hemp products; and

* Input from local businesses on importing or attempting to import CBD and hemp products