The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Clarifies Stance on CBD-Infused Alcoholic Beverages

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The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) — established in 2003 as part of the United States Department of the Treasury — has just released a policy report on beverages that are infused with hemp-derived components, such as CBD, via its latest Industry Circle publication. This clarified stance is specifically concerned with beer infused with hemp-derived ingredients. The need for this clarification comes about as a result of the exclusion of hemp under the same classification as cannabis with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The update suggests that existing guidelines around use of hemp ingredients in alcoholic beverages are being re-examined for potential updating.

Here are some highlights from this update:

  • Producers of alcoholic beverages containing hemp-derived ingredients still need to provide a formula for the creation of the beverage.
  • For the foreseeable future, beverages that have ingredients that are specifically cannabis-derived will remain prohibited at the federal level.
  • The US Food and Drug administration will need to first approve adding cannabis-derived components, such as CBD,  to beverages until this situation changes at all. As a result, interstate commerce of cannabis-derived CBD-containing products will still be considered illegal.
  • To add to the overall confusion, some types of hemp ingredients are still considered in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. At this point, only hemp seed and hemp oil are sanctioned.

Are Changes Ahead at the FDA?

As TTB noted in its guidance, TTB also consults with FDA on ingredient safety issues where appropriate.  In some cases, TTB may require formula applicants to obtain documentation from FDA indicating that the proposed use of an ingredient in an alcohol beverage would not violate the FD&C Act.

After enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., issued a statement noting that it remains unlawful under section 301(ll) of the FD&C Act to introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce any food to which CBD or THC has been added.  On April 2, 2019, Dr. Gottlieb announced that FDA will hold a public hearing on May 31, 2019, in part to obtain scientific data and information about the safety of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds.

Read the full TBD Industry Circle.

Background on the TTB

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is a bureau under the Department of the Treasury. We employ staff across the country, including our Headquarters Offices in Washington, D.C., and the National Revenue Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Our staff are highly educated and technically trained; more than half are analysts, chemists, investigators and auditors. In addition, a large number of employees serve as financial, legal, information management, and computer specialists. See how we are organized.


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