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FDA Says It Will Continue 'Enforcement' Against CBD and Delta-8 THC Until Farm Bill Renewal in 2024

The regulatory agency has come under intense scrutiny since it issued an incendiary letter earlier this year, seemingly passing the buck of responsibility to Congress concerning the controversial hemp derivatives.



With the hemp industry continuing to sustain attacks from state lawmakers, the Corporate Cannabis lobby, and many other politicians and advocacy groups over the safety and legality of hemp and its derivative downstream products and uses, the hope for 2023 was to have Congress' fix' all of the problems and unintended loopholes presented by the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and hemp-derived products for the first time in almost a century.


However, this past Congressional session has not been a stellar lawmaking effort by the U.S. government's increasingly bipartisan and polarizing Legislative Branch. From the Speaker of the House debacle to yet another threat of a federal shutdown, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle continue to let petty partisan and political differences negatively impact the job of passing and enacting laws to help serve the needs of the American people.


One glaring example of this frustrating impasse is the trillion-dollar comprehensive Farm Bill, which Congressional leaders are supposed to revise, adjust, and renew every five years. Because lawmakers have been so preoccupied with political bickering and gamesmanship as opposed to doing their jobs, the 2023 version of the Farm Bill (officially, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2023) failed to be renewed this year and required an extension until September 2024.


As a result of the delay, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that it would continue its practice of regulating the hemp and hemp derivatives industry by issuing warnings to producers and retailers as it waits for Congress to renew the massive agricultural spending bill, complete with a new set of rules governing the enigmatic market sector.


Earlier this year, the FDA sent shockwaves across the hemp industry by issuing a letter, effectively relinquishing its authority to establish guidelines for regulating hemp products, most notably CBD, to Congress. In that letter, the agency said there needed to be more information about the safety of CBD products to properly regulate them as foods or supplements under the FDA's current structure.


The hope had been for Congress to address the issue of regulations for CBD, delta-8, and other synthetic, high-producing compounds made from CBD through the renewed Farm Bill. However, much like the entire hemp sector, the regulatory agency must wait for legislators to return in 2024 to take on the contentious issues presented by the hemp portion of the legislation. 


Among those divisive topics requiring Congressional attention are changes needed to clarify and strengthen the language in the measure regarding rules for hemp extracts, such as CBD, and the highly controversial production and sale of Intoxicating Hemp Derivatives, like delta-8 THC.


Until that takes place, however, the FDA will continue its practice of issuing warning letters to businesses attempting to manufacture and sell items containing CBD as a food supplement or products containing predominantly unregulated hemp-derived cannabinoids like delta-8 THC. 


While this "stay the course" action by the regulatory agency is a safe choice for officials from a political perspective, it still leaves many law-abiding hemp businesses out in the cold and desolate landscape of a technically legal but unregulated food and supplements market.


Without that all-important "FDA Approved" stamp, many of these businesses are left to languish in a precarious limbo state. Hopefully, Congress will not need the entire year to recraft, revise, and renew the vital spending bill.


However, until they do step up and pass the measure, hemp advocates and stakeholders must wait, worry, and wonder if their almost $30 billion industry will survive the daily onslaught of attacks from state legislatures and Corporate Cannabis interests determined to extinguish the remarkable and misunderstood hemp industry.



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