AVMA voices veterinary needs to FDA about cannabis products

Published on July 23, 2019


Protecting, promoting and advancing veterinary medicineThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should provide regulatory clarity about expectations for the labeling, safety, and use of cannabis-derived and cannabis-related products, the AVMA said in comments submitted to the agency last week. This is critical to assure the safe and appropriate use of these products in animal drugs, food, feed, and food/feed additives.

The AVMA submitted the comments following a public hearing held by the agency in late spring to gather stakeholder input while considering regulatory frameworks for hemp derivatives—including CBD—used for therapeutic purposes and as food additives.

“Veterinarians have a strong interest in, and enthusiastically support, exploring the therapeutic potential of cannabis-derived and cannabis-related products,” according to the AVMA comments. “But we want to be sure we can have continued confidence in the efficacy, quality, and safety of products used to treat our patients.”

Due to the 2018 farm bill, hemp and its products containing less than 0.3% THC by dry weight are no longer classified as controlled substances. This is positive news because it enables easier access for research. However, the FDA still has regulatory authority over these and all other veterinary therapeutic products and animal food/feed. FDA regulation is meant to assure therapeutic efficacy and safety, quality control, and appropriate oversight. It also mandates the further research that is needed to ensure these products can be used safely and effectively to treat our animal patients.

AVMA’s comments were developed with support from the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and its Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee. Members of both panels lent their expertise to help define for the FDA critical veterinary issues related to cannabis products, and the importance of addressing them.

The AVMA’s concerns stem largely from the widespread marketing of cannabis-derived products, including hemp products, with health claims that haven’t received the required FDA evaluation and approval. “The FDA should establish a clear and efficient process for approval of cannabis-derived and -related therapeutic products, and then conduct consistent enforcement against manufacturers and distributors who are noncompliant,” the AVMA said in our comments.

AVMA’s director of state advocacy, Dr. Ashley Morgan, addressed the FDA during the spring hearing alongside representatives from a variety of other organizations. You can read more about the hearing and her testimony in the August 15, 2019, issue of JAVMA.

AVMA’s comments and testimony are part of our ongoing engagement with federal regulators and other stakeholders on the subject of cannabis. As with all our policy and advocacy work, we are working to ensure the perspectives of veterinarians are considered when lawmakers set regulatory frameworks and policies that impact veterinary medicine. Read the AVMA’s full comments.

Cannabis resources for veterinarians

The cannabis conversation isn’t going away anytime soon, and the AVMA has many resources to help you stay informed and up to date. These include:

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