Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has instructed the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency to release the cannabidiol, or CBD, products the agency has seized – while acknowledging she still has public health concerns.
The governor told reporters Friday morning that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expressed concern about the health effects of various consumer products that have been laced with CBD, a derivative of the hemp plant.
The cultivation and sale of hemp became legal when the 2018 Farm Act became law at the start of this year. However, the health effects of hemp-derived CBD products and the validity of the labeling claims made on those products are in question and subject to FDA regulation.
The governor said the FDA’s “guidance” has been that “not enough science” has been done to understand the health impact of CBDs yet. “I’m concerned about the public health,” said the governor.
If a product is being marketed as a drug that's intended to have a therapeutic effect, then it’s regulated as a drug, and it generally cannot be sold without FDA approval, an FDA policy states. In the case of an over-the-counter drug, the product must have an FDA monograph.
Nevertheless, in the wake of heavy pressure from business interests whose products have been seized, the governor said they will now be released.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, she said: “After careful review by my office and in consultation with the attorney general, we intend to release the seized CBD products by our Customs Agency while still ensuring we adhere to all federal and local laws and regulations.”
At the same time, the governor’s release advised consumers to “be aware that only one CBD prescription product has been approved by the FDA.”
And she said the public health department will continue to “ensure that CBD products are not marketed for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”
Earlier this week, Ike Peredo, the director of Guam Customs, told The Guam Daily Post his agency began seizing products primarily to ensure compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeling requirements.
Peredo said he acted on his own initiative and was not instructed to begin seizures by the governor or the attorney general. Peredo said he called on the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services for assistance.
A team from the DPHSS Division of Environmental Health conducted an inspection of all the seized products, compiled a report and sent it to the FDA for its review.
Peredo said he was waiting for clearance from the FDA before releasing the products.
As of Friday, the FDA had not responded.
The governor referred to that in her statement saying that CQA "will continue its attempts to comply ... and give the FDA reasonable time to respond." She said Guam Customs "will act accordingly based on the FDA’s response, or lack thereof."
“Customs is doing their job,” the governor said to reporters Friday morning. “And so is Public Health.”
She also thanked Attorney General Leevin Camacho, who issued a statement Tuesday in support of the actions taken by Peredo.
The governor said she agreed with the attorney general that “it’s important for all stakeholders to carefully consider the legality of their actions under both local and federal laws.”
However, she said, “we are also mindful of the community’s interest in these products.”
She also urged Del. Michael San Nicolas, who on Monday questioned the legality of the seizures, to join other members of Congress and “push federal regulators to finalize and synchronize their rules and regulations.
“The vagueness on the federal level has put all states and territories, not just Guam, in this state of uncertainty with regard to public health and safety,” the governor stated.