Handling the Legal Uncertainties Surrounding CBD



The CBD trend could be the biggest thing to hit the pet industry since dog and cat food went grain-free—but not if it is handled the wrong way by manufacturers and retailers.


While CBD products are already making a huge impact in pet stores across the country, this is still a relatively new trend that hasn’t even come close to realizing its full potential. Imagine what this movement could grow into as more pet owners become better educated on the many wellness benefits CBD can provide for our animal companions, especially if it is eventually approved as a pet food ingredient.


However, there are still significant hurdles that must be overcome in order to reach that ideal scenario, most of which relate to the current uncertainty about how CBD will be regulated by the government. There is currently so much grey area surrounding the legal standing of this powerful ingredient that even the experts on the front lines of legislative and regulatory efforts related to CBD have stark differences in perspective. This point came through loud and clear recently when I ended up smack in the middle of two very different points of view on the use of the term “CBD” on product labels.


On one side was a well-respected CBD product manufacturer that submitted for publication an open letter to the industry to clear up a growing misconception that it is illegal to use the term “CBD” on product packaging. On the other side was the industry’s top pet supplement certifying organization, which has taken the position that using “CBD” on product packaging is risky until there is more clarity about the legal status of this ingredient.  Both sides have valid points behind their arguments and reflect the pure passion that exists within the CBD movement—passion that must be harnessed in a positive way in order to ensure a bright future for all.


Fortunately, it looks like we can soon expect some much-needed clarity about the legal issues surrounding the use of CBD in pet products, starting with the 2018 Farm Bill that was passed by Congress last week. And there are many indications that upcoming legislative and regulatory action will be favorable to the movement.


Nevertheless, with so much that is still unclear—even to the experts—I recommend that retailers proceed with caution in this product category. By all means, take advantage of the growing CBD movement; but do so by partnering with vendors that understand the legal nuances in how these products can and cannot be marketed, and by turning to trusted industry organizations for guidance.


And don’t forget to do your own research on the evolving status of CBD in pet care. It’s future of your business that’s at stake, after all.


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