Saying they are tired of the FDA dragging its feet on regulating hemp and CBD, a bipartisan trio of U.S. senators has introduced a bill to allow its use in foods and beverages.
The Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act was introduced by Oregon’s two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, as well as Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky. It would remove hemp-derived products, especially cannabidiol (CBD), from the legal limbo where they have existed since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp.
After the Farm Bill passed, the FDA declared CBD a drug, meaning that its use in consumable products has to be approved on an individual basis with clinical trials – which makes product development nearly impossible. Products containing CBD are widely available, but they exist in a kind of gray zone, technically vulnerable to an FDA crackdown, which is why major CPG companies have been reluctant to enter the market.
The new legislation would remove that uncertainty by explicitly exempting hemp and all its products from the FDA’s drug-based prohibition.
“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 statement. “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.”