The CBD trend looks like a gold rush, but regulation remains a big obstacle

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

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Getty Images
The regulation is a nightmare, finding quality reliable suppliers can be challenging and know how to market CBD personal care is conundrum, but still beauty professional want in.

At the end of last month I attended the Cosmoprof North America 2019 event. Brands were pushing CBD products throughout the expo hall space, the Cosmotalk dedicated event on the topic could have been sold out three times over, and in the aisles it was one of the most popular topics of conversation.

Indeed, I overheard one conversation likening the trend to a gold rush that everyone wants in on. I thought that phrase so accurately described the enthusiasm around CBD I used it in the headline for this article.

Walking the floor of what is the biggest B2B event for the beauty industry in the Americas, it was hard to avoid beauty and personal care brands that were promoting newly launched products for hair and skin care that contained CBD or hemp-derived ingredients.

But unless they have had their head in the sand, all of these brands also know that they are taking a risk in launching these products that stretches beyond the usual challenge of positioning a brand that consumers may or may not buy.

Plenty of legal ambiguity

The fact that marijuana for medical use is still illegal in 20 states in the United States underlines the complexity of the situation, whereas in Europe it is legal in countries like Germany, Czech Republic and Finland, which has prompted the EU Commission to work on regulation to harmonize the situation for all member states.

Ronie Smetlz, is an attorney with Tucker Ellis LLP and is a frequent speaker on the beauty and personal care events circuit, where she shares her expertise in the regulation of CBD and Hemp-derived products, both for the United States and international markets.

At the Cosmoprof North America event, held in Las Vegas at the end of July Smeltz was part of the CosmoTalks panel, titled CBD and Beauty: The Next Five years.

Regulatory uncertainty makes forecasting nearly impossible

Smeltz gave a detailed slide presentation, underlining the complexity of the current regulatory environment, underscoring the fact that there is significant gray area in the US and worldwide for CBD in cosmetics and personal care applications because most regulation is focused on medical, recreational and supplements use.

Making light of the title for the presentation, which aimed to forecast the next five years for the CBD beauty market, Smeltz stated that with regulation changing literally by the week, throwing light on the future of the trend was almost impossible.

She also stated that since giving her last presentation, the month before, a lot of the information from that presentation had already completely changed for the US market, thanks to movements on pending legislation, and both warning letters and position updates from the U.S. FDA.

Indeed, in the U.S. the legislation and regulation is not just the domain of the FDA, as Smeltz pointed out in her presentation.

Federal and State laws are just a start

Added to the voice of the FDA is the different regulations at both Federal and State levels, with specific Federal regulation such as the 2018 Farm Bill being a main focal point, with this bill aiming to legalize the use of hemp and hemp products.

Additionally, the US also has a long list of pending Federal regulations relating to both CBD and hemp, including patent protection, medical research licensing and the Marijuana Justice Act of 2019.

Other body’s that also have a say on the regulation of CBD and hemp products in the US include the USDA, the Federal Trade Commission and even the U.S. Postal Service, the latter having specific rules about what kind of hemp-based products can and cannot be mailed.

Don't forget California rules!

Then there are California regulations. Currently state legislators are waiting to hear California AB 228 at a Senate Committee hearing next week, which would effectively deem CBD safe for human and animal consumption, while clarifying that the sale of cosmetics made from industrial hemp will not be restricted.

On top of all this there is the additional complication of whether or not Hemp Oil is considered to be the same as CBD oil. Hemp oil is far easier to legally include in a formulation, but it is more complicated than that because while all hemp is cannabis, strictly speaking not all cannabis is hemp.

If, like most individuals trying to launch a beauty or personal care products containing either CBD or hemp oil, the environment is so complex that unless you have an awful lot of time to study the environment thoroughly, you would be best served by seeking professional help on the matter.

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