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Kroger to carry CBD products at 945 stores

The Kroger Co. confirmed that it plans to roll out cannabidiol (CBD) topical products to stores in 17 states.

Kroger will sell hemp-derived CBD items such as lotions, balms, oils and creams in 945 stores, Kristal Howard, head of corporate communications and media relations at Kroger, said Tuesday. She did not name the brands that will be sold.

News of Kroger’s CBD product distribution emerged this week in published reports. Howard said the rollout has begun on the West Coast, and the products will be at all 945 stores before the end of June.

The CBD products will be carried at stores in Kroger’s Atlanta, Cincinnati, Columbus, Michigan, Central, Louisville, Delta, Nashville, Mid-Atlantic, Roundy’s (Mariano’s and Pick ‘n Save), Dillons, King Soopers, Fry’s, Fred Meyer, QFC and Smith’s divisions.

“Like many retailers, we are starting to offer our customers a highly curated selection of topical products like lotions, balms, oils and creams that are infused with hemp-derived CBD,” Howard said in a statement. “CBD is a naturally occurring and non-intoxicating compound that has promising benefits and is permitted within federal and state regulations. Our limited selection of hemp-derived CBD topical products is from suppliers that have been reviewed for quality and safety.”

While various CBD offerings continue to make their way into stores, many retailers remain uncertain about the regulatory framework regarding the sale and labeling of hemp-containing products. Scientific research on CBD’s purported health benefits also is still in its early stages.

On May 31, the Food and Drug Administration held a lengthy public hearing to get a bead on current scientific data and information about the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis derivatives.

“Cannabis contains more than 80 biologically active chemical compounds, including the two best-known compounds: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). If one of these compounds, or the plant itself, is added to a food or cosmetic, marketed as a drug or otherwise added to an FDA-regulated product in interstate commerce, then it falls within FDA’s jurisdiction,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said at the hearing.

“Late last year, the federal scheduling of cannabis changed. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the Farm Bill, removed hemp — meaning cannabis or derivatives of cannabis with a very low THC content (below 0.3% by dry weight) — from the CSA’s [Federal Controlled Substances Act’s] definition of marijuana. As a result, while marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, hemp is no longer a controlled substance under federal law,” he explained.

Under current law, CBD and THC can’t be added to a food or marketed as a dietary supplement, Sharpless noted.

“There are real risks associated with both those substances, and critical questions remain about the safety of their widespread use in foods and dietary supplements, as well as other consumer products — including cosmetics, which are subject to a separate regulatory framework. And given the new interest in marketing cannabis products across the range of areas FDA regulates, we will need to carefully evaluate how all these pieces fit together in terms of how consumers might access cannabis products,” he said. “Nowhere is this truer than with CBD. While we have seen an explosion of interest in products containing CBD, there is still much that we don’t know.”

At the hearing, Peter Matz, food and health policy director at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), urged the FDA to act swiftly to provide retailers more clarity and create a pathway for the “legal and appropriate sale” of hemp and hemp-derived products. He noted that there’s already “staggering” demand for CBD products ranging from food, beverages and dietary supplements to topical items like creams and lotions.

“I am here to convey the seriousness of the regulatory ambiguity facing our member companies and their customers each day as consumer demand for products containing hemp and hemp-derivatives continues to grow, as does the commercial availability of such products — especially those which count CBD as an ingredient,” Matz said in his remarks. “While most of the stakeholders participating today understand the Farm Bill did not alter FDA’s authority over the use of such ingredients in FDA-regulated products, the fact is there is mass confusion in the marketplace for the public, for suppliers and retailers, and also for state regulators and law enforcement.”

Rollout of hemp-derived CBD topicals under way on West Coast

More Kroger Co. stores to carry CBD products

Two vendors of cannabidiol (CBD) products plan retail distribution to more than 1,000 Kroger Co. supermarkets.

Charlotte’s Web Holdings Inc. and Veritas Farms Inc. said Monday that they’re rolling out topical CBD items to 1,350 of the Cincinnati-based grocer’s stores in 22 states, including the Kroger, Dillons, Fry’s, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Mariano’s, Pick ‘n Save, QFC and Smith’s banners.

Boulder, Colo.-based Charlotte’s Web said Kroger Co. stores in multiple states have begun carrying its topical hemp CBD extract oils, with a plan to roll out to 1,350 locations in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Charlotte’s Web noted that the launch with Kroger marks its largest distribution ever through a single retailer.

“Since its founding, Charlotte’s Web has been on a mission to make CBD products available for as many people as possible,” CEO Deanie Elsner said in a statement. “This distribution reach through Kroger’s market-leading network of grocery stores is an enormous contributor to our mission. We are very appreciative of Kroger and all of our channel partners for the continued progress in expanding access to hemp-based health and wellness products.”

Along with CBD oils, Charlotte’s Web’s product line includes hemp-infused balm and cream, CBD supplements (capsules and gummies) and pet products. The company said its U.S. retail distribution includes five mass retailers covering 22 states and 8,000 locations overall.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Veritas, meanwhile, is expanding its current distribution with Kroger Co. from 945 stores in 17 states to 1,350 stores in 22 states.

The broader rollout brings Veritas’ topical CBD products to Kroger Co. locations in Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Montana and Utah, totaling more than 400 new stores. Items featured in the rollout include Veritas Farms’ full-spectrum hemp oil, salves, moisturizing lotion and lip balm.

“We are pleased to expand our partnership with Kroger family of stores,” said Alexander Salgado, CEO and co-founder of Veritas Farms. “As a nationally recognized leader in retail, their commitment to growing this category signals the success experienced thus far, the potential for continued growth and the importance of these products’ availability to consumers and retailers.”

In June, Kroger confirmed plans to begin selling CBD topical products at 945 stores in 17 states. The company didn’t name the brands but said lotions, balms, oils and creams infused with hemp-derived CBD would be sold at stores in its Atlanta, Cincinnati, Columbus, Michigan, Central, Louisville, Delta, Nashville, Mid-Atlantic, Roundy’s (Mariano’s and Pick ‘n Save), Dillons, King Soopers, Fry’s, Fred Meyer, QFC and Smith’s divisions.

Last December, the federal government changed its classification of cannabis with the enactment of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the Farm Bill . The legislation removed hemp — cannabis or derivatives with a very low content of psychoactive ingredient THC — from the Federal Controlled Substances Act’s definition of marijuana. That meant hemp was no longer a defined by the federal government as a controlled substance, even though marijuana remains a Schedule I drug.

Under current federal law, CBD and THC can’t be added to a food or marketed as a dietary supplement, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA maintains regulatory oversight of food, cosmetics, drugs and other products within its jurisdiction that have CBD, THC or the cannabis plant itself as an additive.

Still, various CBD offerings continue to make their way into stores, leaving many retailers uncertain about the regulatory framework regarding the sale and labeling of hemp-containing products. Scientific research on CBD’s potential health benefits also is still in its early stages. Earlier this month, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) submitted comment to the FDA urging the agency to provide more guidance on the retail sale of food, beverage and other products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD.

The potential consumer market for CBD products is lucrative. Nielsen estimates that overall U.S. sales of all legalized cannabis — including hemp-derived CBD — reached $8 billion, a total that could swell to $41 billion by 2025 as more states legalize marijuana for recreational use, now allowed in 11 states and the District of Columbia.

“The face of legalized marijuana has changed dramatically,” Nielsen said in a report last week. “We forecast much of the same in the hemp-derived CBD sector, which is now invading mainstream retail and grabbing headlines along the way.”

Charlotte’s Web, Veritas Farms brands to be sold at over 1,000 locations