Two Democratic senators from Oregon warned the Trump administration on Tuesday that they will be closely monitoring the implementation of industrial hemp legalization, stressing that the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) and other hemp-derived products should not be overly regulated under the 2018 Farm Bill.
In a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) argued that while hemp has been federally legalized, “outdated regulations” continue to “limit producers from taking full advantage of the industrial hemp market.”
The senators pointed to the ban on interstate commerce of hemp products as one example of an undue regulation.
“Farmers in Oregon and nationwide are poised to make real economic gains for their communities once these regulations are updated,” Wyden and Merkley wrote to Gottlieb. “We will be closely engaged in the ongoing implementation of our legislation, as it was Congress’ intent to ensure that both U.S producers and consumers have access to a full range of hemp-derived products, including hemp-derived cannabinoids.”
The FDA should “immediately begin updating regulations for hemp-derived CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids” in light of “widespread” public interest in the products. The agency should also “give U.S. producers more flexibility in the production, consumption, and sale of hemp products,” they wrote.
The lawmakers said they’re giving the FDA 30 calendar days to respond to a list of questions about the agency’s hemp policy:
1. What steps are the agency advancing to clarify to the public the authority the agency has in the production and marketing of hemp, specifically Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives?
2. What lawful pathways are currently available for those who seek approval to introduce Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives as a food, beverages or dietary supplement, including into interstate commerce?
3. Are there circumstances in which Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives may be permitted as a food, beverages or dietary supplement by the agency?
4. Will the agency consider issuing a regulation, or pursing a process, that would allow Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives in food, beverages or dietary supplements that cross state lines?
After the president signed the wide-ranging agriculture legislation into law last month, Gottlieb released an extensive statement that outlined the FDA’s ongoing role in regulating products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids, which includes taking enforcement action against companies that make unsanctioned claims about a product’s therapeutic properties and prohibiting interstate commerce of hemp products.
However, the commissioner also said that the FDA would consider pathways, at its discretion, to allow businesses legally market products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds.
“In addition, pathways remain available for the FDA to consider whether there are circumstances in which certain cannabis-derived compounds might be permitted in a food or dietary supplement,” Gottlieb wrote at the time. “Although such products are generally prohibited to be introduced in interstate commerce, the FDA has authority to issue a regulation allowing the use of a pharmaceutical ingredient in a food or dietary supplement.”
“We are taking new steps to evaluate whether we should pursue such a process,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.