During the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee hearing on hemp July 28, industry professionals addressed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) lack of regulation on CBD and hemp-derived compounds.
House Agriculture Subcommittee Members, U.S. Hemp Roundtable (USHR) Vice President and CEO of Kentucky-based Ecofibre, Eric Wang, and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture, Ryan Quarles, all testified during the hearing, which “aimed to explore opportunities to improve the current rules on hemp production,” according to a USHR press release.
The 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp at the federal level, is set to expire in 2023. (The farm bill expires and is updated every five years). Wang and Quarles’ testimonies both urged Congress to regulate CBD and other hemp-derived compounds in the upcoming 2023 Farm bill, adding that the FDA’s inaction on regulating such products is negatively impacting the industry, according to the release.
“The hemp industry has been severely hampered by the slowness of the federal Food and Drug Administration to create a regulatory pathway for hemp-derived cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol,” Quarles said during his testimony. “Without clear direction from FDA regarding products containing hemp-derived CBD, large retailers will not carry the products and many business leaders are reluctant to move forward with the development and manufacture of CBD-related products. That reluctance, in turn, has dampened industry demand for harvested hemp material.”
“In passing the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress made clear its intent to support the production and sale of hemp and hemp derivatives such as CBD. Thousands of U.S. growers planted hemp in response, with farming for CBD representing most of all hemp acreage,” Wang said in his testimony. “However, public statements by FDA officials stating that it is unlawful to sell ingestible hemp-derived CBD products have taken their toll on the industry. CBD commerce and investment have been chilled due to continued inaction at the federal level, impairing economic opportunity for American farmers.”
Wang also noted that the lack of regulation impacts consumer's’ safety, as many companies sell products without appropriate safeguards and misleading claims.
“Some struggling farmers and businesses have pivoted to market intoxicating products such as delta-8, prompting FDA and CDC warnings that they pose significant consumer health and safety risks, particularly for minors,” Wang said. “A clear regulatory pathway for CBD would not only relieve the economic pressure that is leading to this product shift, but it would also help ensure products do not contain intoxicating hemp ingredients.”
Wang also asked Congress to include language from H.R. 841 in the upcoming farm bill that would regulate intoxicating hemp and CBD products as dietary supplements, according to the release. Quarles also suggested changes to The Hemp Advancement Act, which included raising the THC limit allowed in hemp from 0.3% to 1.0%.
“It would be appropriate for the new 1.0% limit to include not only delta-9 THC, but every other THC isomer which could have an intoxicating effect on consumers, including without limitation synthetically created delta-8, delta- 10, delta-7, HHC, and others,” Quarles said. “Embracing a ’total THC’ standard instead of a ’delta-9 THC only’ standard will establish a threshold which better reflects the material’s true intoxicating potential.”
Panel leaders Rep. Jim Baird, Glenn Thompson, and Stacey Plaskett all agreed with Quarles and Wang’s testimonies.
“We’ve heard a lot of great recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill here, and one that I’d like to add is that the FDA hasn’t really had any kind of regulatory framework for hemp-derived CBD, so I would encourage us to include that in our discussions about the 2023 Farm Bill,” Baird said.
And Plaskett responded, “Thank you, and I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment.”