Though Norman Birenbaum has been appointed as the first Internal Cannabis Advisor to the FDA, he has also been a controversial figure throughout his tenure in the cannabis space. Critiques have included neglect for social equity or expungement issues while operating as a regulator, as well as a history of aggressive tax tactics, including use of law enforcement that has been viewed as "hostile" and "harmful" to cannabis patients and entrepreneurs. We leave our readers to judge the news of this appointment for themselves.

On September 27th, the FDA appointed Norman Birenbaum to direct cannabis research and regulation as part of his Senior Public Health Advisor role. With his position, he could help push legislation for federal regulation of cannabis—including marijuana. With more government focus on the benefits of researching cannabis and other plant medicine comes access to medicinal-used cannabis products with ingredients such as CBD, hemp, THC, and more.

Former Director of Cannabis Programs for New York State, Cannabis Czar for State of Rhode Island, and Founding President of Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA), Norman Birenbaum has been selected to take on this honorable role.

“After four years of inaction, we are hopeful that the appointment of Norman Birenbaum by the FDA signals a positive step forward for the regulation of hemp-derived cannabinoids such as CBD,” said U.S. Hemp Roundtable General Counsel, Jonathan Miller.

Birenbaum has not only advocated for cannabis research and regulation, but he has pioneered movements for legalization.

With his background in medical cannabis regulation in Rhode Island, he was hired by the former Andrew Cuomo administration. He oversaw the establishment of hemp and medical marijuana programs. Birenbaum is also one of the innovative policy leaders that helped push the NY government to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

FDA’s Cannabis Regulation: Past, Present, and Future  

Birenbaum, is a Cannabis veteran and former Director of Cannabis Programs for New York State, former Cannabis Czar for State of Rhode Island, and Founding President of Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA).

Even though the Farm Bill of 2018 has made CBD and hemp more accessible, there is still much research to be carried out to ensure the safety of cannabis users and push Congress for legislation.

The FDA reported on this process of research and regulation in 2020, claiming that the “FDA is aware that unapproved cannabis and/or unapproved cannabis-derived products are being used to treat a number of medical conditions.”

While many of these cannabis-derived products are not FDA-approved or federally legal, many people use them as treatments.

With the FDA now in 2022 working towards researching cannabis products, they may find medicinal benefits in certain cannabis ingredients. Health and wellness have always been at the forefront of the cannabis conversation, and the cannabis industry and its consumers could benefit from this planned research.

Miller is excited to work with Biernbaum on the future of cannabis in the US. “we look forward to working closely with him on the development of a regulatory framework for CBD products,” he says, “to ensure consumer safety and product quality across the country.”

Hopefully, Birenbaum can be the catalyst the FDA needs to further cannabis research and regulation country-wide and lead the US into a cannabis-positive future.

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Norman Birenbaum

Johnathan Miller


Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA)

--(c) Graphic by Kally Compton, photos from LinkedIn and FDA