CBD madness – at a supermarket near you – RetailWire

Dec 18, 2019

Warren Thayer

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.

At the end of last month, the FDA sent out warning letters to 15 companies it says are illegally selling products containing CBD (cannabidiol). Unable to deem CBD as “generally recognized as safe,” FDA basically warned that selling CBD-containing food and drink is still against the law.

So how come it’s all over supermarkets across America? How come CBD trade shows are sprouting up like weed? How come “experts” say the global CBD market will skyrocket from $311.7 million this year to $1.25 billion by 2024? This much we know: 

  • The FDA has approved only one CBD product — a prescription drug for severe epilepsy.
  • It’s against the law to market CBD by adding it to food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.
  • The limited data that FDA has seen about CBD safety suggests health risks, including liver injury, drug interactions, changes in mood, etc.
  • Some CBD products are marketed with unproven medical claims and are of unknown quality.

The FDA says it is moving “quickly,” but it has been slow in its research, some say. Of course hemp farming was only legalized in the 2018 farm bill. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that there are more than 1,000 CBD-infused products already available online.

Ben & Jerry’s, in a statement in May, predicted that “CBD Ice Cream Is (Maybe, Hopefully) Coming To A Freezer Near You!” It went on to say that, “Currently, the FDA prohibits adding CBD to food and beverages. But change is on the horizon: They’ve set a public hearing on the legalization of CBD-infused foods and beverages for May 31st, and we’ve submitted a comment to them in support of legalization.”

Uh huh. I might note here that circa 1968, my college roommate and I, while sharing a joint, would often debate when marijuana would become legal. We figured about five to 10 years. We were way too optimistic. 

CBD proponents insist that the FDA is relying on toxicity testing based on doses that are thousands of times higher than normal usage. But the jury is still out. And, IMHO, CBD should be out of your stores, too.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more potential benefits than risks in food retailers embracing the CBD trend? What advice would you have about exploring the opportunity?


„From a constitutional perspective, the FDA has no authority to mandate what is sold within states. „

Neil Saunders

„Well, frankly what I would like is for genuine research to be done on the benefits of CBD. The current laws are simply stupid.”

Paula Rosenblum

„Retailers may or may not understand the risks in selling CBD products, but they understand the rewards in terms of sales and profits.”

Steve Montgomery


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