Congress Reintroduces Bill to Legalize CBD in Dietary Supplements

Legislation for a clear legal pathway to market hemp-derived CBD retains bipartisan support from lawmakers, applauded by industry trade groups and major retail and farm organizations.

February 5, 2021

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As millions of Americans are using cannabidiol (CBD) in dietary supplements, thousands of producers are still waiting on a clear pathway to market hemp-derived CBD through various sales channels. They have yet to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but Congress could help open that avenue.

The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act was reintroduced Feb. 4 with bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives. First introduced in the last Congress as H.R. 8179, the act would create the first pathway for non-medical CBD product to be approved and regulated by the FDA, thereby promoting consumer safety.

The reintroduced bill is sponsored by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and has support of 17 original cosponsors, including 12 democrats and five republicans.

Their backing of the bill is applauded by industry trade groups and major retail and farm organizations, including Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), a national trade association representing manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements and consumer medical devices, with headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“We’re encouraged that this legislation was reintroduced so early in the new Congress and hope it remains a priority for lawmakers given the intense consumer demand and commercial interest in CBD-containing products,” says Scott Melville, CHPA president and CEO.

“The continued lack of regulatory clarity along with insufficient oversight around hemp and hemp-derived CBD has led to bad actors entering the marketplace, exposing consumers to potentially unsafe products that may lack consistency in product quality,” he says. “This bipartisan legislation would be an important step forward and is consistent with CHPA’s 2019 citizen petition calling on FDA to utilize its existing authority and establish a lawful regulatory pathway for responsible manufacturers to bring dietary supplements containing CBD to market.”

Movement on hemp regulations by the FDA came to a pause with the change of White House administrations last month, when the agency withdrew its “Cannabidiol Enforcement Policy,” a document it submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in July. The specifics of that document were unknown, but some in the industry predicted—and hoped—it would provide guidance on over-the-counter CBD regulations.

Stuart Titus, Ph.D., the CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc., a California-based holding company with subsidiaries that make and sell a range of hemp-based products, says regulations from the FDA would help his company find the shelves in retail spaces like grocery stores and drug stores, among others.

Without regulatory guidance from the FDA, concerns remain about the inclusion of CBD products as a dietary supplement, he says. As a result, job creation associated with the industry is impaired as well as economic opportunity for farmers and small businesses.

“It’s nice to see that Congress is taking the lead, because they’re just sick of the FDA dragging their feet on this particular issue,” Titus says. “There were a couple of bills in [the last] Congress to potentially alleviate this and carve out that nice pathway that we in the industry wanted.”

In a Hemp CBD Coalition statement released Feb. 4, the nation’s leading hemp and dietary supplement industry trade groups, joined by major retail and farm organizations, including the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), united to express support of the reintroduced legislation.

In passing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill), Congress made clear its intent to support the production and sale of hemp and hemp derivatives such as CBD, according to coalition’s statement. Moving the reintroduced legislation through Congress for passage wouldn’t only help ensure hemp-derived CBD could be lawfully marketed as a dietary supplement, it would also require manufacturers to comply with good practices to assure consumers that the products they purchase are safe, according to the statement.

“Reps. Schrader and Griffith have shown true leadership on this issue, and we anticipate support continuing to build as it progresses through Congress,” says Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, and spokesperson for the coalition. “The organizations working collectively to establish a trusted marketplace for ingestible hemp-derived ingredients applaud the bipartisan approach on this legislation.”

The coalition supporting the bill includes the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Alliance for Natural Health, Citizens for United Health, Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Hemp Alliance of Tennessee, Hemp Industries Association (HIA), Midwest Hemp Council, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), National Grocers Association, Texas Hemp Coalition, United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), U.S. Hemp Authority, U.S. Hemp Building Association, U.S. Hemp Roundtable, Wisconsin Hemp Alliance and We Are For Better Alternatives (WAFBA).

In addition to Reps. Schrader and Griffith, original co-sponsors include: Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), James Comer (R-KY), Angie Craig (D-MN), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), David Joyce (R-OH), Ron Kind (D-WI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and David Trone (D-MD).