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New Senate bill could bolster the hemp market and protect consumers


A bipartisan bill was recently introduced to the U.S. Senate that, if passed, could help open up the hemp industry and improve consumer safety. Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jeff Merkley of Oregon introduced the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act on May 19.


This legislation aims to allow hemp to legally be used in dietary supplements, foods and beverages. This change could improve the success of hemp farmers, manufacturers and retailers by allowing the industry access to new markets.


The legislation also aims to improve consumer safety by requiring manufacturers to comply with existing federal regulations for CBD products and ensure that their CBD products are labeled properly.


“The Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act is a huge win for American consumers, farmers, and the hemp industry as a whole,” Jonathan Miller, General Counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, said in a statement. “Consumers will benefit from knowing that CBD products must be manufactured according to FDA-approved CBD processes. Struggling American farmers will benefit from a stabilized marketplace. It will also stimulate innovation and job creation in the hemp industry.”


‘Regulatory gray zone’


Although the domestic hemp market has expanded since the 2018 Farm Bill passed, regulatory policies are still holding back businesses, Wyden told Marijuana Moment. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet established rules that would allow CBD to be marketed as food, beverages or dietary supplements.


A press release from Wyden’s office states, “in order for producers to take full advantage of the 2018 law and market hemp derived-CBD products in interstate commerce, the FDA must act, which — two and a half years later — it has failed to do so.”


The FDA did submit draft guidance on CBD enforcement to the White house for review in 2020, but no details were released regarding the content of those recommendations. The draft guidance was withdrawn when the Biden administration took office in 2021, and it is not clear when the FDA plans to resubmit it.


“Hemp-derived CBD products and businesses have earned their recognition in the marketplace, but the FDA, unfortunately, hasn’t treated them like any other food additive or dietary supplement,” Paul said in a press release.


“CBD is in a kind of regulatory Never Never Land — a kind of regulatory gray zone,” Wyden told Marijuana Moment. “The consumer wants to know that everything they purchase is top quality, meets basic standards, is labeled appropriately, but the FDA has basically gone out and tied its own hands in order to regulate.”


Currently, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act limits the types of CBD products that can be sold. This act prohibits retailers from selling CBD as a food, beverage or dietary supplement because CBD has already been approved in a drug.


According to a press release from Wyden’s office, “[t]he FDA has the authority to exempt items from this prohibition, but has yet to exempt hemp-derived CBD despite Congressional action to legalize its production and sale.”


‘The Enough is Enough Act’


To help the cannabis industry along, Wyden, Paul and Merkley recently introduced the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act to the Senate. If passed, this bill will exempt hemp and its compounds from federal restrictions. It would reportedly allow the FDA to regulate the cannabinoid the same way it regulates other new dietary ingredients, foods and beverages.


This would provide businesses the opportunity to tap into new markets by allowing them to sell CBD-infused food and drinks. It would also allow businesses to market CBD as a dietary supplement.


“Since the current FDA has been so slow, I’ve said we might as well call this bill, the Enough Is Enough Act,” Wyden told Marijuana Moment.


“Every day that the FDA drags its feet to update its CBD regulations, hemp farmers are left guessing about how their products will be regulated, and real economic gains for workers and business owners in Oregon and across the country are left on the table,” Merkley said in a press release. “Hemp-derived CBD products are already widely available, and we all need FDA to issue clear regulations for them just like they do for other foods, drinks, and dietary supplements.”


A similar bill was introduced to the House earlier this year. If passed, the House bill would allow CBD to be marketed as a dietary supplement.



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