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

“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.” 




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