A bipartisan duo of US House legislators has introduced a pair of CBD regulation bill proposals to regulate the hemp-derived cannabinoid, arguing that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has failed to regulate the popular cannabinoid despite the legalization of hemp with the 2018 Farm Bill. The two bills, which were introduced in the House of Representatives on March 17, are sponsored by Ohio Democratic Rep. Annie Craig and Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Virginia.
“The Food and Drug Administration has dragged its feet in properly regulating CBD and hemp-derived products on the market, creating confusion about its legal uses,” Griffith said in a statement from the congressman’s office. “Americans need better guidance and that’s why I’ve introduced these two pieces of legislation, which will create a pathway for regulation in both the food and dietary supplement spaces.”
The first measure, the Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2023, would make hemp, cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp and other hemp-derived products lawful for use as a dietary supplement unless otherwise directed by the FDA. The second bill, the CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act, directs the FDA to establish rules to regulate CBD as the agency would for other food ingredients, including setting requirements for the quality and labeling of CBD products.
“In Minnesota, we’ve seen firsthand that our local governments and small businesses need more guidance when it comes to CBD and hemp-derived products,” Craig said. “That’s why I’ve partnered with Rep. Griffith on these bipartisan bills to better regulate CBD products, keep consumers safe and ensure our hemp farmers and businesses have the support they need.”
Interest in CBD exploded in the US after Congress legalized hemp with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The cannabinoid is available in a range of consumer products, including vapes, tinctures and topicals, with consumers turning to CBD goods for a variety of health conditions, including pain, anxiety and sleep disorders. The FDA has oversight over CBD because it’s the active ingredient in Epidiolex, an oral formulation derived from cannabis that was approved by the agency to treat specific forms of childhood epilepsy in June 2018.
FDA Sought CBD Guidance From Congress In January
The introduction of the two CBD regulation bills comes after the FDA announced earlier this year that there are too many uncertainties about the safety of CBD for the agency to regulate the cannabinoid under its current structure. The FDA also called on Congress to provide further guidance on CBD, citing safety concerns about CBD, including the potential of the cannabis compound to cause liver damage and potential negative effects on the male reproductive system and on children and pregnant women.
“We haven’t found adequate evidence to determine how much CBD can be consumed, and for how long, before causing harm,” FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement from the agency on January 26, adding that “after careful review, the FDA has concluded that a new regulatory pathway for CBD is needed that balances individuals’ desire for access to CBD products with the regulatory oversight needed to manage risks.”
The FDA suggested several aspects of regulation for consideration by Congress, including packaging and labeling requirements, limits on CBD levels and testing for potency and safety. The agency also cited possible negative effects on pets and livestock, again looking to lawmakers for further guidance on the issue.
“CBD also poses risks to animals, and people could be unknowingly exposed to CBD through meat, milk and eggs from animals fed CBD,” Woodcock wrote. “Because it’s not apparent how CBD products could meet the safety standard for substances in animal food, we also don’t intend to pursue rulemaking allowing the use of CBD in animal food. A new regulatory pathway could provide access and oversight for certain CBD-containing products for animals.”
The new legislation from Griffith and Craig is supported by dozens of hemp and cannabis activists, businesses and nonprofit organizations, including the National Cannabis Industry Association, Americans for Safe Access, the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the US Hemp Roundtable, said that the two bills are “critical legislation that’s integral for hemp farmers, CBD producers and consumers.”
“The FDA has made it clear that legislative action by Congress is needed to solve its CBD regulatory problem and these two bipartisan bills re-introduced by Reps. Griffith and Craig serve as the solution,” Miller said in a statement from the hemp industry trade group. “The FDA’s inaction over the past four years has had a devastating impact on US hemp growers, and has left thousands of unregulated products on the marketplace, raising health and safety concerns for consumers.”