A bill that would allow CBD derived from hemp to be sold as a dietary supplement was introduced in the House of Representatives last week in a bid to jumpstart an industry hampered by inaction from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The bipartisan measure, The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2020 (H.R. 8179), was introduced on Friday by Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Virginia.

“Hemp was historically an important crop for Virginia farmers, and dietary supplements made from it do not possess dangerous addictive qualities,” Griffith said in a statement. “Nevertheless, the current state of regulation creates confusion about its legal uses. I joined this bipartisan bill to provide certainty for hemp farmers that their crop may find legal uses.”

Measure Builds On 2018 Farm Bill

If passed, H.R. 8179 would ensure that cannabidiol (CBD) and other non-intoxicating constituents of hemp could be lawfully marketed as a dietary supplement under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The bill would also require CBD and other hemp extract products to be manufactured and sold under existing regulations for dietary supplements. Hemp and products derived from the crop, including CBD, were legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. But while the FDA has asserted the authority to regulate CBD under the bill and stated that selling ingestible CBD products is illegal, the agency has so far failed to issue guidance for CBD to be used as a dietary supplement or as an ingredient of foods and drinks.

Brandon Beatty, the CEO of Bluebird Botanicals and the director of the industry group the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, explained the importance of the legislation in an email to High Times.

“This bill is critical to regulating and opening up the CBD dietary supplement market. Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and CBD have been legal yet not fully approved for use in dietary supplements by the FDA,” Beatty said. “The FDA has been investigating a regulatory path forward for the nascent industry, yet this process has been extremely slow – and in that time, shady “fly-by-night” CBD companies have been able to proliferate and market unsafe or improperly labeled CBD products to the detriment of consumers and other CBD companies. The industry simply cannot wait any longer for regulation, and this bill allows Congress to step in and mandate the FDA to finish its work in a more timely manner.”

Beatty added that the legislation would benefit both his business and the CBD industry as a whole.

“This bill will greatly support Bluebird Botanicals’ business by outlining clear guidance for the manufacturing, marketing, and commerce of our CBD products,” he said. “It’ll also help weed out some of our untrustworthy competitors by requiring CBD companies to comply with new dietary ingredient requirements and other existing policies such as adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices.”

Lack Of Action Stifling The Industry

Shawn Hauser, the chair of the hemp and cannabinoids practice at the law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, said in a virtual interview that inaction from federal regulators is stifling the fledgling hemp industry in the United States.

“The FDA has failed to act to regulate hemp and hemp-derived CBD products in the nearly two years since hemp farming was legalized, resulting in regulatory uncertainty and inadequate oversight of products in the consumer market,” Hauser said. “The FDA’s inaction is hampering the promising U.S. hemp economy and devastating farmers and businesses across the supply chain.”

Tyler Williams, the founder of the Cannabis Safety & Quality product certification program, characterized H.R. 8179 as “a step in the right direction,” but added that more guidance is still needed from Congress and the FDA.

“I think this is a great starting point, but this is only a band-aid on a much bigger problem. For instance, this means that CBD would still be illegal to put into food and beverage products,” Williams said in an email. “Why are we saying it is safe for people to consume as a dietary supplement, but not as a food and beverage product? The bill also doesn’t address the cultivation of the product or what regulating body it will fall under (i.e. USDA or FDA).”

After its introduction on Friday, The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2020 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for its consideration.

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