Dietary supplement retailer the Vitamin Shoppe started selling CBD soft gels this week, making it the latest major chain in the United States to begin carrying products made with the cannabinoid. But unlike competing stores such as Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens, which are only selling topical products so far, the Vitamin Shoppe is carrying CBD supplements designed to be taken orally.
Vitamin Shoppe CEO Sharon Leite said in an email that the company’s clientele has shown a keen interest in CBD.
“The customer relationship is the cornerstone of The Vitamin Shoppe’s reinvention, and our customers have told us loud and clear they want CBD,” Leite said.
Vitamin Shoppe stores in 14 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico began selling Irwin Naturals soft gels with full-spectrum hemp extract this week. And later this month, the chain will add Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Broad Spectrum CBD Extract soft gels and liquid drops to the product line in those stores. Vitamin Shoppe stores nationwide began selling hemp extract essential oils last month.
“Our goal at The Vitamin Shoppe is to be first to market with innovative, high-quality products, as well as provide our customers the education, guidance, and services essential to helping them live their best life, however they define it,” said Leite. “These new product offerings are another example towards us fulfilling that promise.”
Will the FDA Interfere?
The decision to carry CBD dietary supplements is contrary to guidance issued by the FDA, which still has the authority to regulate cannabinoid products despite the legalization of industrial hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. The agency has scheduled a hearing to begin the process for May 31, but has advised that CBD cannot legally be added to foods, drinks, and dietary supplements until it creates a regulatory path to do so. In a press release announcing the hearing, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that more research into the safety and efficacy of CBD is needed.
“While the availability of CBD products, in particular, has increased dramatically in recent years, open questions remain regarding the safety considerations raised by their widespread use,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb also announced that the FDA was taking action against four CBD companies who were making unsubstantiated health claims for their products on product web pages, online stores, and social media.
“The companies used these online platforms to make unfounded, egregious claims about their products’ ability to limit, treat, or cure cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune diseases, opioid use disorder, and other serious diseases, without sufficient evidence and the legally required FDA approval,” Gottlieb said.
The Vitamin Shoppe did not comment on whether the company is concerned about violating FDA regulations. “We have more than 40 years of experience in the supplements industry, and we know our customers need a reliable place they can purchase products they desire and trust, including CBD hemp extract,” Leite said.