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Group Representing Hemp Nonprofits Pleads with House Committee to Weigh in on the Lack of CBD Regulation by the FDA

With the beleaguered industry still trying to recover from the post-COVID-19 market downturn amid attacks from state legislatures trying to stifle the young sector, the lack of regulatory guidance from the FDA continues to cripple hemp business owners nationally.

History is a powerful teacher for helping humans understand the long and painful journey of progress. Yet, no civilization ever thinks it will become a cautionary tale for future generations. Indeed, the ancient Romans never thought their empire would come to such a catastrophic end.

However, through the flawless prism of looking back, historians can quickly point to what went wrong and why. They can pick apart all the mistakes and blunders and come to a clear and understandable conclusion for the collapse.

Whether they be military failures, political missteps, or natural disasters like Pompeii, the reasons why the mighty Roman Empire fell seem so clearly apparent. How such a formidable culture and civilization could let its might erode under its citizenry’s sandaled feet almost seems incomprehensible. 

One of the main contributing factors to Rome’s fall and similar ones by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks is a lack of institutional integrity. The actual might of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans was not their military prowess or superior culture. Instead, what kept these massive empires strong and ahead of their enemies was their institutions.

In Rome, the true power behind the Roman legions and their ability to quickly and decisively expand the empire was a unified government, an educated and politically active populace, and attention to detail. The famous Roman roads, aqueducts, stunning architecture, art, science, and many other accomplishments were all achieved through cooperation, compromise, and due diligence.

However, as historians will attest, almost every powerful and prosperous civilization is usually undone by resting on its laurels and the inevitable destructive force of greed, laziness, and vanity. Sound familiar?

America was founded on similar principles, eventually making it the greatest superpower on Earth. The country dominated the 20th century with its overwhelming economic, military, political, and cultural dominance. American institutions like Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President gave their citizens confidence and a belief that anything is achievable by working hard and doing the right thing.

That is not the America of today. Americans no longer trust their government or its institutions. The notion that political leaders care about their constituents and will continue to uphold the once-high ideals of the American system of government is a distant memory for those lucky enough to remember the days of greatness.

The hemp industry is a perfect microcosm of that failure. It was, after all, just five years ago that Congress legalized hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill. That seminal piece of legislation led to the creation of a dynamic, lucrative, and widespread industry that generated more revenue ($28.4 billion) in 2023 than the entire legal cannabis industry.

One of the crown jewels of the hemp market explosion was CBD. A cannabinoid produced from hemp, CBD, or Cannabidiol is a powerful healing compound that helps patients suffering from chronic pain, epilepsy, and a myriad of other debilitating conditions. Following the Farm Bill’s passage, its explosive growth made the hemp industry the darling of Wall Street and speculative investors. 

However, there was always a nagging issue dogging hemp business owners and consumers—the lack of regulation and the all-important U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Seal of Approval. CBD could not be considered safe as a food or supplement additive without that stamp of legitimacy. As a result, following the catastrophic COVID-19 lockdowns, CBD sales plummeted, and the hemp industry entered a severe slump. Without the regulatory guidance of the FDA, many hemp businesses cannot survive.

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 THC, 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. 

Not willing to stand by and wait for action that seemingly will never come, a group representing nonprofit and supplement organizations sent a letter recently to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee pleading for the committee members to discuss the FDA’s lack of regulation of hemp products, most notably those containing CBD. 

According to numerous media outlets, 32 organizations signed the letter, which highlighted the fact that despite hemp becoming legal five years ago, there are still thousands of products that are still not regulated by the enforcement body.

Because the Committee on Energy and Commerce has the “broadest jurisdiction of any congressional authorizing committee,” including areas such as “telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health and research, environmental quality, energy policy, and interstate and foreign commerce,” the hemp group is hoping committee members can use their powerful influence and platform to motivate FDA officials to quit deferring to Congress and actually do their jobs.

In their letter, the group writes, “We urge you to take immediate steps to hold a hearing before your committee, bringing the (request for information) ideas to public light, and offering an opportunity for your Members to weigh in on the crucial issues that must be resolved for the hemp industry to survive and for health and public safety to truly be protected.”

"We urge you to take immediate steps to hold a hearing before your committee, bringing the (request for information) ideas to public light, and offering an opportunity for your Members to weigh in on the crucial issues that must be resolved for the hemp industry to survive and for health and public safety to truly be protected."

- Letter from Group Representing 32 Nonprofit and Supplement Organizations

They go on to point out that both consumer safety and industry jobs are at risk because of the regulatory body’s inaction on addressing the CBD issue. By highlighting the true gravity of the situation for the hundreds of thousands of Americans dependent on the much-maligned and misunderstood industry, the group hopes it can motivate lawmakers to put the needs and interests of regular Americans ahead of those of unmotivated and inattentive bureaucrats as well as the Corporate Cannabis lobby hell-bent on destroying their sister plant’s chance to provide jobs and healing for those in desperate need. 

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