Congressional Committee Meets After 'Years Long' Wait Regarding Hemp

About 60% of American adults have tried CBD (cannabidiol) products and believe it has medicinal benefits. A U.S. congressional committee, however, has been trying to make lawmakers create harsher guidelines regarding CBD products to ensure safety in the nation.

The House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services held a hearing on July 27 titled "Hemp in the Modern World: The Yearslong Wait for FDA Action" to explore issues relating to the CBD industry.

Speakers included U.S. Hemp Roundtable's General Counsel Jonathan S. Miller, Senior Managing Scientist at ToxStrategies Rayetta G. Henderson, President-Elect of Kentucky Narcotic Officers Association Richard A. Badaracco.

The oversight committee, presided over by Kentucky Representative James Comer, had been looking into the FDA's refusal to regulate dietary supplements containing CBD produced from hemp.

Congress has frequently urged the FDA to establish regulations for unregulated products, which started to appear in the latter part of the last decade and developed into a thriving gray market. Still, lawmakers and the FDA have been circling CBD for over five years.

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 their 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

Stakeholders have urged the FDA to define CBD's classification for a long time. However, the organization has hesitated to act, preferring to concentrate on enforcement and sending warnings to CBD producers.

"The FDA must do better and use their already-existing authority to regulate hemp-derived products," said Chairwoman McClain during the hearing.

She continued that "growth and sales of hemp and hemp-based products including CBD were legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. CBD was also removed from Schedule 1 status, which are drugs that have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. It makes sense to remove CBD from Schedule 1 status."

In January, the FDA ultimately stated that the industry could not be managed by federal safety standards and urged Congress to pass legislation establishing guidelines for the items. FDA concurrently published a list of non-obligatory CBD recommendations.

Several CBD players have resisted, claiming that the industry is adequately regulated by the dietary supplement and food industries' already-existing regulatory frameworks and the standards that apply to their production, labeling, and marketing.

CBD is presently prohibited from being used in foods or sold as a dietary supplement by the FDA since it is classified as a medication.

With the Farm Bill's legalization of hemp products in 2018, the cannabis business saw a significant uptick. The law is renewed every five years, so it will once again be in the spotlight this year in 2023. Miller declared that this was a historic moment for hemp. He says the 2023 Farm Bill is the next and greatest chance to advance the hemp business after five difficult years following legalization.

"The unity within the industry is remarkable and telling: Our shared voice will resonate with Congress and help us turn this opportunity into meaningful progress for hemp farmers and product consumers," concluded Miller.

Cannabis contains the non-psychoactive substance CBD. Although CBD does not induce a 'high state' as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does, some people still question if it is lawful because it comes from the cannabis plant. For CBD to be legal in your state, it must be so on both the federal and state levels.

As of July 2023, 17 states in the United States, along with the District of Columbia, have made CBD usage legal. These states include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Some states also allow the use of CBD for medical purposes. Human self-reports and research show that CBD may be beneficial for treating health problems, including anxiety, chronic pain, and sleeplessness.

The only CBD product currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration is the prescription oil Epidiolex. It is permitted to handle two kinds of epilepsy. Although CBD is used to treat several ailments, such as Parkinson's disease and anxiety, there is presently no proof of the drug's therapeutic effects.

Additionally, using CBD has potential hazards. CBD may have adverse effects, including dry mouth, diarrhea, decreased appetite, tiredness, and fatigue, even though it is frequently well tolerated.

They conclude that to handle hemp-derived cannabis products, a comprehensive regulatory framework is urgently required, whether through the Farm Bill or another critical piece of legislation. Congress has the chance to learn from the strategies used by the states to establish a competent and thorough federal regulatory framework.

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