Hemp was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has still not finalized a process to allow derivatives such as CBD to be used in consumable products like foods, drinks and dietary supplements. A new Senate bill introduced on Wednesday seeks to change that, however.
The Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act, filed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would exempt “hemp, hemp-derived cannabidiol, or a substance containing any other ingredient derived from hemp” from certain restrictions that have blocked the emergence of legal consumable hemp products while the FDA has slow-walked regulations.
The bill also says federal officials may “establish labeling and packaging requirements” for hemp-derived products.
“CBD products are legally being used and produced across the nation. Yet because the FDA has failed to update its regulations, consumers and producers remain in a regulatory gray zone,” Wyden said in a press release. “It’s been more than two years since I worked with colleagues to have Congress legalize hemp and hemp-derived products. It’s long past time for the FDA to get with the program, for the sake of American consumers and farmers.”
Paul said that “hemp-derived CBD products and businesses have earned their recognition in the marketplace, but the FDA, unfortunately, hasn’t treated them like any other food additive or dietary supplement,” adding that the new bill “provides a huge relief to hemp farmers, processors, and merchants.”
Merkley, for his part, noted that “every day that the FDA drags its feet to update its CBD regulations, hemp farmers are left guessing about how their products will be regulated, and real economic gains for workers and business owners in Oregon and across the country are left on the table.”
“Hemp-derived CBD products are already widely available, and we all need FDA to issue clear regulations for them just like they do for other foods, drinks, and dietary supplements,” he said.
Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,100 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.
Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.
A bipartisan group of House members introduced similar legislation earlier this year to allow CBD to be marketed as a dietary supplement.
The new Senate bill is supported by the Consumer Brands Association, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, Hemp Roundtable, American Herbal Products Association, Oregon Farm Bureau, Vote Hemp and National Industrial Hemp Council.
Earlier this year, FDA withdrew draft guidance on CBD enforcement that it had submitted for review to the White House under the Trump administration. There are few details about what the proposal included, but it was expected to give the industry a better understanding of the federal perspective when it comes to marketing cannabis products.
The decision to withdraw it came shortly after President Joe Biden was inaugurated and his chief of staff sent out a government-wide memo calling on federal agencies to pull pending rules.
The agency was mandated under appropriations legislation enacted in 2019 to provide an update on its regulatory approach to CBD, and it did so in March of last year. The update stated that “FDA is currently evaluating issuance of a risk-based enforcement policy that would provide greater transparency and clarity regarding factors FDA intends to take into account in prioritizing enforcement decisions.”
Also last year, FDA released separate draft guidelines that are meant to streamline approvals for generic oral CBD medications.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule for the nation’s industrial hemp program took effect in March.
Read the full text of the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act below:
Photo by Kimzy Nanney.