Four legislators representing both political parties have reintroduced a bare-bones bill designed to get the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) moving on regulations for CBD.
The Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act aims to update federal standards to ensure hemp-derived CBD products are regulated by the FDA as dietary supplements, foods, and beverages under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).
“Despite being legally grown in the United States for nearly five years, hemp and hemp-derived CBD are still in a regulatory gray zone that puts consumers at risk and holds producers back,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who is one of the bill’s sponsors. “The FDA says it needs Congress to act. We’ve got the bill to ensure equal and safe access to hemp-derived CBD.”
Safety is priority
The reintroduction of the bill comes after lawmakers and the FDA have danced around CBD since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and its downstream derivatives, with Congress repeatedly calling on the agency to set rules for the unregulated compound, sold in the form of extracts, gummies, teas, supplements and other ingestibles.
FDA finally declared in January that existing safety standards are insufficient to manage the industry, and called on Congress to deal with the compound through legislation that would allow the agency to establish regulations.
The lawmakers noted that the FD&C Act prohibits any new dietary ingredient, food, or beverage from entering the market if it hasn’t been studied or approved as a drug. The FDA has the authority to exempt new foods from prohibition under the FD&C Act, but has yet to do so for hemp-derived CBD.
In addition to giving hemp-derived CBD products an opportunity to be lawfully used under the FD&C Act, the new law would prioritize consumer safety, requiring manufacturers to comply with all existing federal regulations for the products, including proper labeling.
Congressional hearing today
The bill’s introduction comes ahead of a congressional hearing set for today at 2. p.m. EST that is to explore potential guardrails for the CBD market. The session is also likely to address FDA’s failure to reign in synthetic delta-8 THC, a psychoactive compound made from CBD. Delta-8 products have massively proliferated across the U.S. over the past three years, raising additional health concerns.
In addition to Sen. Wyden, the bill is being sponsored in the Senate by Rand Paul, a Republican of Kentucky; and in the House of Representatives by Oregon Democrat Reps. Jeff Merkley and Earl Blumenauer. The lawmakers noted that the FD&C Act prohibits any new dietary ingredient, food, or beverage from entering the market if it hasn’t been studied or approved as a drug. The FDA has the authority to exempt new foods from prohibition under the FD&C Act, but has yet to exempt hemp-derived CBD.
The proposed law is supported by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, the Hemp Roundtable, American Herbal Products Association, Oregon Farm Bureau, Vote Hemp, and the National Industrial Hemp Council.