Nothing new added to sector’s outlook during Congressional CBD hearing

Nothing new added to sector’s outlook during Congressional CBD hearing

Hemp in the Modern World: The Long-Awaited FDA Action

This week’s congressional hearing in the U.S. Congress titled “Hemp in the Modern World: The Years Long Wait for FDA Action” did not bring any significant changes to the CBD sector. The hearing, which lasted about 90 minutes, mainly served as a platform for lawmakers to express their opinions, albeit softly, as hemp has always been a bipartisan issue.

However, Republicans, who chaired the hearing, criticized the FDA for not setting clear rules for CBD under existing legislation and regulations. They emphasized the importance of eliminating risks to consumers in the unregulated CBD gray market. On the other hand, Democrats agreed that safety issues exist in the unregulated market but sided with the Biden Administration’s FDA. The FDA has called on Congress to establish a general framework for CBD products through new legislation that would allow the agency to create specific safety rules, leading to a “new path” for the category.

A draft legislation, called the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act, has already been introduced to regulate hemp-derived CBD products as dietary supplements, foods, and beverages under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). This legislation has bipartisan support and is widely supported by lawmakers from both parties.

The FDA’s lack of action on CBD regulation during both the Trump and Biden administrations has been widely criticized. Currently, the FDA recognizes CBD as a drug, preventing it from being used in foods or marketed as a dietary supplement. However, the FDA has released non-binding recommendations for CBD and has indicated that it can establish new rules once Congress passes a law. While the FDA is notoriously slow-moving, this signals some initiative within the agency.

During the hearing, Democrats and Republicans also debated CBD research. Republicans argued that existing research is sufficient to ensure consumer safety, while Democrats sided with the FDA, stating that long-term research for CBD is still lacking due to its relatively recent emergence in the market. The FDA has expressed concerns about the potential harmful effects of CBD on various groups, including pregnant women, children, the elderly, and certain bodily systems.

The blame for the current state of CBD regulation lies partly with Congress as they failed to anticipate the emergence of CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids in the 2018 Farm Bill. CBD products were already on the market for about two years when Congress addressed their regulation. Additionally, the appearance of delta-8 THC, a synthetic “marijuana” made from CBD, surprised the industry. This unexpected development posed a significant health risk but was barely mentioned during the hearing.

Stakeholder representatives at the hearing cynically blamed the lack of FDA rules for CBD’s current troubles. However, it was the hype, unreliable vendors, and the unregulated gray market that led to these issues in the first place.

In conclusion, the congressional hearing on “Hemp in the Modern World: The Years Long Wait for FDA Action” did not bring any groundbreaking changes to the CBD debate. Proposed legislation is being discussed, and the FDA has expressed readiness to establish regulations once the laws are in place. Ultimately, the hearing did little to change the status quo.

Key Points from the Congressional Hearing:

– Rep. James Comer (Republican, Kentucky) criticized the FDA for not providing clear guidance on CBD regulations and leaving producers and consumers in the dark.
– Rep. Jamin Raskin (Democrat, Maryland) emphasized the need for reasonable regulations that protect consumers and support legitimate businesses in the hemp industry.
– Rep. Lisa McClain (Republican, Michigan) accused the FDA of creating confusion and benefiting unsafe producers by not using its existing authority to regulate CBD products.
– Rep. Katie Porter (Democrat, California) pointed out the contradictory expectations placed on the FDA, stating that Congress must hold the agency accountable but should not restrict its authority excessively.
– Jonathan Miller, General Counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, highlighted the struggles faced by the hemp industry due to the FDA’s decisions and called for regulatory relief to support farmers and small businesses.
– Gillian Schauer, Executive Director of the Cannabis Regulators Association, emphasized the need for a comprehensive federal regulatory framework by learning from the approaches taken by states.

Overall, the hearing shed little new light on the CBD debate, and the CBD sector awaits concrete action from the FDA and Congress to establish clear regulations.

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