The Food and Drug Administration in late September named Norman Birenbaum as the agency’s senior public health advisor on cannabis research and regulation efforts, an indication that it may be preparing to move forward on long-awaited regulations on CBD products, among others.
Birenbaum was the director of cannabis programs for New York State from 2019 to 2022, overseeing the regulation, administration and policy development for New York’s medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs. He helped lead state efforts to legalize cannabis for adult use, resulting in the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. After legalization, Birenbaum helped establish the new, combined Office of Cannabis Management.
Birenbaum also oversaw the creation and implementation of a new regulatory structure for CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoid products, allowing them to be sold as a food, beverage or dietary supplement within New York, the same type of regulation the FDA is currently working through.
Prior to working in New York, Birenbaum was the top cannabis regulator of Rhode Island as part of that state’s Office of Cannabis Regulation. He is also the founding president of the Cannabis Regulators Association.
U.S. Cannabis Council CEO Khadijah Tribble said in a statement the USCC was “ready and eager to work with Mr. Birenbaum on all aspects of cannabis reform.”
“We’re pleased that the Biden administration has signaled its growing interest in good-faith engagement on cannabis issues by creating a new adviser position within the FDA dedicated to cannabis research and regulation,” Tribble said. “Mr. Birenbaum’s vast experience managing multiple states’ medical cannabis efforts will surely inform how he approaches the challenges and opportunities ahead for our growing industry.”
— Brian Beckley