NASC’s Perspective on Hemp & CBD



The hemp/CBD issue is the hottest topic in the pet industry today, and the significant passion and emotion connected to the issue can lead to misinformation and confusion. I get multiple calls each week from companies wanting to market hemp and/or CBD in animal products and must explain that the regulatory environment for animal products is not the same as for human products and the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA) does not apply to animals.


As the leading trade association in the world representing companies selling products similar to human dietary supplements, marketed for dogs, cats and horses, the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) has had the issue of hemp and hemp derivatives like CBD on its radar for more than two years. I have spoken extensively on this topic and have worked closely with regulators, the animal and human industries, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (Governor Hickenlooper’s committee), the Colorado Hemp Industry Association (COHIA), many leading law firms, and other stakeholders to responsibly address the use of hemp and hemp derivatives in animal health products and animal feed, which includes animal treats. With this as our foundation, I feel compelled to comment, clarify and provide information to stakeholders interested in the use of hemp in animal products by answering several questions that many industry members have:


What is NASC’s position on hemp and CBD?

We have been on the forefront of this issue for several years for companies selling products for dogs, cats and horses and have had many direct discussions with regulators at all levels. Due to the current positions of the regulators and risks, we advise NASC members that marketing CBD products or making direct claims regarding CBD concentrates may put their company and downstream business associates at risk.


We do require that claims for non-food products (Dosage Form Products) remain within those described in section 201(g)(1)(c) of the FFDCA and the THC level must be 0.3% of less.


Is the term "CBD" protected or illegal?

The short answer is no, but the FDA does have authority and responsibility to regulate these products for “man and animals.” The FDA’s position is that CBD is not allowed as an ingredient in foods, human dietary supplements or animal foods (biscuits, treats, snacks and the like are considered animal food) due to provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), which prohibits marketing these products or adding article(s) investigated or approved as a new drug.  Despite the existence of counterarguments, at present some CBD products currently on the market, particularly those intended for ingestion, may therefore remain unlawful.


What are some of the risks and red flags associated with hemp and CBD products?

Retailers should understand that any animal feed/food product containing hemp, CBD or hemp derivatives may be subject to stop sale orders in the state where products are sold. In addition, any company making claims involving a product regarding efficacy in diagnosing, preventing, treating or curing any disease or referencing any disease or chronic condition violates section 201(g)(1)(b) of the FFDCA and is subject to receiving a Warning Letter from FDA.


How will the 2018 Farm Bill impact the legal standing of hemp and CBD in the pet industry?

The 2018 Farm Bill will impact animal supplements/treats by removing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from having authority over hemp cultivation or products that contain hemp (including plant parts and derivatives) as an ingredient. Although that is a positive development, the Farm Bill will not make hemp or hemp derivatives (CBD) approved for use in animal feed/food.


What is NASC’s role in shaping the future of hemp and CBD in pet products?

The NASC has been on the forefront of establishing pathways allowing hemp to be used in both animal health products as well as animal feeds. Working as part of an industry coalition, we have helped facilitate and play a key role in submitting a Feed Additive Petition to FDA-CVM for hemp seed oil approval for use in foods and treats for dogs and cats.  (Further information can be found on these and other activities on the COHIA website.)


Finally, I wish to highlight that the NASC has always taken a “rising tide floats all boats” approach to this and other issues regarding products marketed for dogs, cats and horses that are similar to human dietary supplements. All industry participants benefit from the accomplishments of our organization and NASC members contribute to a cause greater than their own company’s self-interests. We appreciate the support of all downstream business partners that have helped us more than double the size of the industry since we began our journey together. 



Bill Bookout, President & Founder, NASC



Founded in 2001, NASC began with 18 companies and has grown to over 280 members including marketers, manufacturers, raw material suppliers, testing laboratories and others. Because animal products are regulated differently than human dietary supplements, the organization began with the objective of engaging the regulatory agencies at the state and federal levels with the goal of defining, developing and implementing a system of self-regulation that would benefit all stakeholders—including, most importantly, the animals themselves.


NASC has established an excellent working relationship with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM), the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), most state regulatory agencies in the U.S., and we were instrumental in helping shape the Canadian Veterinary Natural Products Program (vNHP). Recognition of and demand for the NASC Quality Seal is steadily growing both domestically and internationally.


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