FDA Hires Former New York & Rhode Island Cannabis Regulator as Senior Policy Advisor

The FDA has tapped a former New York and Rhode Island cannabis regulator as its first senior policy advisor on cannabis.

Full story after the jump.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week hired Norman Birenbaum to serve as its first senior policy advisor on cannabis, LA Weekly reports. Birenbaum most recently served as director of cannabis programs for New York State. Prior to that role, he served as Rhode Island’s top cannabis regulator. 

Birenbaum was also one of the founding members of the Cannabis Regulators Association, which was formed to link regulators across states to collaborate on industry policies and best practices.

NORML Political Director Morgan Fox told LA Weekly that given the FDA’s “ineffective approach” to cannabis policy over the years “it is good to see them being more proactive and bringing on people with actual cannabis experience.” 

“The FDA’s work related to cannabis is likely going to increase and become more complicated in the not-too-distant future, and it should be preparing for this now by continuing to bring on additional staff with a wide array of expertise in the space.” — Fox to L.A. Weekly 

Aaron Smith, founder of the National Cannabis Industry Association. Told L.A. Weekly that the organization is “hopeful that Mr. Birenbaum’s background in cannabis regulations will bring to the FDA the experience and understanding of the nuances they will need to effectively regulate the vastly diverse array of cannabinoid products, including CBD products an increasing number of Americans are relying on for pain relief and other benefits.” 

In his FDA role, Birenbaum will be working with the Center for Regulatory Programs to advise on projects involving cannabis research and the regulation of cannabis products. In New York, Birenbaum helped oversee the implementation of rules that allowed CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoid products to be sold as food, beverage, and dietary supplements. 

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