CBD legal patchwork complicates pet product marketing

Individual state laws tangle with federal regulations to create a patchwork of laws governing the use of CBD in pet foods, treats and supplements.

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While marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance under United States federal law, CBD continues rising as one of the fastest growing and most controversial ingredients for pet treats and supplements. However, pet product formulators may legally use CBD extracted from hemp plants. Marketing those CBD-containing pet products can be complicated. For example, in November 2019, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials warned 13 companies making CBD products for pets that sales of the products violated the law. At the same time, the agency announced that it would not classify CBD as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), which would have allowed the ingredient to be used in foods based on historical human and animal use.

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Nevertheless, pet owners can now buy hundreds of CBD pet treat and supplement brands in the U.S. Individual state laws tangle with federal regulations to create a patchwork of rules governing the use of CBD in pet foods, treats and supplements. Lawyer Emily Lyons of Husch Blackwell shared her experiences with CBD and the pet food industry in the video embedded below. Lyons will explore the topic in more detail during her presentation, “Green rush: Making and marketing pet foods and treats with CBD” at Petfood Forum Connect.

The biggest issue that her clients have run into when it comes to incorporating CBD and pet products, whether that's a treat, a supplement or a pet food, is that CBD is not really approved for use in those products right now under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act or by the FDA, Lyons said.

In those instances that makes, it is very difficult to market the product or know what claims you can make about that product specifically, in order to promote CBD use in the pet product, she said.

“It is also even more complicated because some states have issued their own laws that allow for use in pet products,” Lyons said. “You end up with a patchwork of laws and that CBD is not being necessarily legal at the federal level, which trickles down to lots of issues for pet food companies.”

Petfood Forum CONNECT

Learn more about the legal aspects of CBD use in pet food during Lyons’ presentation at Petfood Forum CONNECT, where global pet food industry professionals will learn the latest pet food trends, access a wide network of industry suppliers and collaborate in one-to-one meetings to share business ideas. During a time when travel and in-person meetings are inadvisable, Petfood Forum CONNECT attendees will network during virtual meetings and happy hours, have access to more than 15 live or on-demand educational sessions and participate in live Q&A discussions with speakers and chat with pet food professionals from around the world. Registration grants access to options for an exclusive directory of digital showrooms, allowing attendees to schedule one-to-one meetings with key pet food industry suppliers.


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