Congress Schedules Another Hearing to Discuss the FDA’s Lack of Action Concerning CBD Regulations

Congress Schedules Another Hearing to Discuss the FDA’s Lack of Action Concerning CBD Regulations

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Lawmakers are also introducing a bipartisan measure to bridge the regulatory gap, ensuring the safety of the popular hemp-derived product.

In the seemingly never-ending saga surrounding Congress and the FDA's battle regarding establishing safety guidelines for CBD, lawmakers added another chapter to the legislative soap opera this week. According to multiple local and national media outlets, The House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services is scheduling a hearing for next week, July 27, titled "Hemp in the Modern World: The Years long Wait for FDA Action."


In a press release on Thursday, Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-MI) said that the "FDA has failed for too long to do its job to ensure the safety of legalized hemp-derived products. Without these regulations, dangerous products could make their way to the shelves while safe and credible CBD products could be prevented from entering the market. We are going to investigate why exactly the FDA has decided to ignore (its) regulation responsibilities related to CBD and other areas of jurisdiction. We need to ensure that the FDA is not setting what would be a dangerous precedent and using this as an opportunity to seek more authority and resources from Congress."


"FDA has failed for too long to do its job to ensure the safety of legalized hemp-derived products. Without these regulations, dangerous products could make their way to the shelves while safe and credible CBD products could be prevented from entering the market. We are going to investigate why exactly the FDA has decided to ignore (its) regulation responsibilities related to CBD and other areas of jurisdiction. We need to ensure that the FDA is not setting what would be a dangerous precedent and using this as an opportunity to seek more authority and resources from Congress."

- Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-MI)


The hearing is just the latest in a series of jabs sent back and forth between members of Congress and leading officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since the agency sent a controversial and incendiary letter effectively "washing its hands" concerning the creation of regulations governing the safety of CBD and other hemp-derived products.


In that statement, the agency said there needs to be more information about the safety of CBD products to properly regulate them as foods or supplements under the FDA's current structure.


FDA Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock said, "A new regulatory pathway would benefit consumers by providing safeguards and oversight to manage and minimize risks related to CBD products."


The letter drew sharp criticism from several influential lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who chairs the full committee. Sales of hemp-derived CBD are projected to total nearly $6 billion in 2023, and the market is estimated to grow to over $22 billion by 2030.


Legislators like Comer represent districts heavily invested in hemp and its lucrative by-products like CBD. However, without the FDA's participation in implementing safety guidelines and providing its coveted seal of approval, cultivators, manufacturers, retailers and, most importantly, consumers are left in an uneasy state of limbo.


To stem the tide until Congress and the FDA can come to an understanding of precisely what the agency should be doing concerning CBD, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing legislation to remove regulatory barriers that, according to the FDA, prevent it from approving CBD sales in the food supply or as dietary supplements.


The measure known as The Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act, which was also introduced during the previous session of Congress but did not advance, would exempt "hemp, hemp-derived cannabidiol, or a substance containing any other ingredient derived from hemp" from certain federal restrictions while allowing officials to establish labeling and packaging rules.


Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is one of the bill's co-sponsors in the Senate. In a press release on Thursday, he said, "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. The FDA says it needs Congress to act. We've got the bill to ensure equal and safe access to hemp-derived CBD."


"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. The FDA says it needs Congress to act. We've got the bill to ensure equal and safe access to hemp-derived CBD."

- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)


Industry advocates and stakeholders have been eagerly anticipating the showdown between committee members and top officials from the FDA. One of those experts, Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, will testify at the hearing next week.


In addition, Rayetta Henderson, senior managing scientist at ToxStrategies, LLC, and Richard Badaracco, a former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent who now serves as the president-elect of the Kentucky Narcotic Officers Association and as a board member of the U.S. Hemp Authority will also be providing testimony to the committee.


In a statement concerning his testimony, Miller said, "I am honored to serve as a witness for this historic hearing to testify to the extraordinary challenges faced by hemp farmers and CBD consumers over the past five years. I look forward to shedding light on the urgent need for clear regulations that ensure consumer safety and promote the growth of the hemp industry."


"I am honored to serve as a witness for this historic hearing to testify to the extraordinary challenges faced by hemp farmers and CBD consumers over the past five years. I look forward to shedding light on the urgent need for clear regulations that ensure consumer safety and promote the growth of the hemp industry."

- Jonathan Miller, General Counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable


As CBD and the entire hemp industry currently experience a massive and devastating economic contraction along with attacks from concerned state legislatures regarding politically toxic issues like synthetic delta-8 and delta-10 THC and other hemp synthetics, next week's hearing could go a long way in determining the ultimate fate of the still very young and fragile hemp market sector.


Without a definitive regulatory framework, the hemp industry cannot develop and flourish. The actions and decisions of lawmakers and FDA officials, beginning with next week's showdown, will either fortify and bolster the foundation of the hemp industry or lead to its ultimate collapse.