Hemp was legalized by the 2018 US Farm Bill, but the hemp-derived CBD market was never officially set up and regulated. Now, with the FDA once again looking to bypass the topic, activists are getting involved to help move things along. Help make it happen by forcing Congress to do something. Read on to find out how.
Hemp-derived products like CBD are not regulated, and this hurts smaller companies, and stalemates the use of CBD in nutritional supplement products. Hemp-derived compounds have grown in popularity, from delta-8 THC, to CBDV, to even delta-9 THC. These products are still available even without regulation, but buyers should know their brands and be aware of dangers. For interested users, we have an array of deals for hemp-derived compounds like CBD and delta-8 THC, so check out our stock, and learn the importance of hemp-derived compounds. For more articles like this one, make sure to subscribe to The THC Weekly Newsletter. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
Hemp and regulation
The 2018 US Farm Bill worked to undue some of the cannabis prohibition laws that were put into place in the early 1900s. It legalized the production of hemp for all purposes, using the following definition to define the plants in question and how they could be used: “The term `hemp‘ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
This effectively removed hemp from the Controlled Substances list, and started what looks like a free-for-all market of hemp-derived CBD products. CBD, of course, is the cannabinoid found more prevalently in hemp plants, and with these new laws, it appeared that CBD was released to the masses for whatever they wanted.
However, the Farm Bill made a very concrete statement. Though it legalized hemp, it did not change the authority that the Secretary of Health and Human Services, or Commissioner of Food and Drugs, has over issues that fall under the jurisdiction of FDA administration laws. What this means, is that though hemp was legalized for all purposes, the FDA still holds authority over hemp products if they’re used as food or medicine. Since the FDA oversees laws related to foods, dietary supplements, human and veterinary drugs, and cosmetics, if a hemp product falls into one of these categories, it is regulated the same way.
The FDA did go a little further as far as specifically regulating products in this category. In 2018, it started advancing hemp seed food products, as hemp seeds contain neither THC or CBD making them less controversial than the rest of the plant. However, it never did anything about hemp-derived CBD products, where things get a little more confusing.
The FDA and why hemp-derived CBD isn’t regulated
You see, according to the FDA, “It is unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) to introduce into interstate commerce a food (including any animal food or feed) to which has been added a substance that is an active ingredient in an approved drug product or a substance for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted, and the existence of such investigations has been made public.”
Prior to the Farm Bill, CBD wasn’t ever approved as a medication, which means this preceding specification wouldn’t apply. However, in that same year, (the timing of which might have been used to solidify this provision against CBD), the FDA approved the pharmaceutical medication Epidiolex for epilepsy, which contains CBD, thereby making it illegal to add CBD to other products as an ingredient, as it became the active ingredient in a pharmaceutical medication.
However, the FDA doesn’t allow just anyone this ability to create medications with this compound. As of yet, three years later, the market has been kept entirely by big pharma, with no approvals for anyone else. Thus, the FDA is blocking smaller companies from legally producing hemp-derived CBD products, by maintaining it as a pharmaceutical medicine so it can’t be used as an added ingredient to other non-medicinal products.
That’s some fancy footwork by the FDA. While it could be looked at as the FDA being careful, and looking out for people’s health, the whole idea of what’s happening entirely goes against this. A well studied natural compound is being kept at bay from the general population legally, by the FDA refusing to set up regulation measures for it. Having approved it for pharmaceutical products, it calls it a medicine, and therefore doesn’t allow its non-medicinal use, while only allowing big pharma companies the ability to create medicines with it. It legally stalemates the industry outside of pharmaceuticals, making a clear case for the idea that the US government is trying to help out big pharma by slowing down the regulation of CBD.
Is there a plan for hemp-derived CBD to be regulated?
It’s been three years since the Farm Bill was signed, and yet this ridiculous, nonsensical issue, still remains. In fact, for over three years, the government has been promising to do something, while not actually doing anything. To back up how little the government has actually cared, or invested into this issue, consider that this past month, the FDA finally made it clear it has no plans to further regulate the industry right now.
Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock, stated at a Consumer Healthcare Products Association event, that the current law was in fact clear, and acknowledged an impasse between the regulatory body, and any company seeking to use hemp-derived CBD in products. When directly asked by Scott Melville, president and CEO of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), what could be done to speed things along, Woodcock answered,
“I’m not sure… In my reading, the law is fairly clear about this, and so it puts us in a stalemate position. We also need additional data on the safety of lower doses and how that might be controlled, say, in the supplement market. How could you manage exposure of consumers?” Kind of sounds like it hasn’t even been discussed…
In fact, Woodcock went as far as to try to pass the buck, stating, “I don’t know that it’s a matter of FDA policy. I think it may well be a matter of law.” Were we supposed to expect anything out of an agency that hasn’t even seen fit to take up its own responsibilities? If the FDA is confused about how to regulate things, then clearly there was never a plan to do so, and the last few years have just been lollygagging around, letting big pharma have the field. This same thing can be seen in countries like France, where the government actually took the EU to court in an effort to keep natural CBD illegal, while letting big pharma sell synthetic CBD legally. Luckily, France lost.
Help get hemp-derived CBD regulated!
Maybe the government is dragging its heels to help out big pharma, and maybe this is just an example of inefficient government offices. No matter the reason, it doesn’t work for the hemp-derived CBD industry to not have it regulated, and you can help get the job done. How? By forcing your lawmakers to do something.
One of the interesting things about government (it should be obvious, but isn’t these days) is that if the people want something enough, and make it clear enough (without being confused or divided in the process), they can force their will on a government body, for one basic and undeniable reason: no one wants to lose their seat by not keeping constituents happy. This can be seen very well in a state like North Carolina, where republicans are pushing a medical cannabis bill, and outwardly stating that they understand they won’t keep their jobs if they go against constituent wishes.
Funny enough Congress seems to understand this already, probably because their seats do depend on it, unlike Commissioner Woodcock, and the FDA. In 2021, both the House and Senate urged immediate action, directing the FDA to create formal policy that can be used until regulations are made. Of course, Congress has been trying to get the FDA to take action for years now. Considering the FDA had its first discussion over two years ago, and nothing happened yet, (except the Commissioner trying to pass the buck by denying legal jurisdiction), it stands to reason that the agency isn’t interested in following through.
31 US representatives (both democrats and republicans) are co-sponsoring HB 481 to regulate CBD as a dietary supplement, ending the stalemate. There is a House hearing for this issue expected this fall. The Senate is currently working through two bills – S 1698 and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which would both legalize hemp extracts like CBD.
Now, you can help the effort too! Use your voice. Use your power as an individual, which put together with many other individuals, can create enough power to change legislation. Go here, and tell your congressmen what you want. Tell them to regulate CBD now! This initiative is being led by Hempsupporter.com.
Without intervention, it seems the FDA probably won’t do anything to change the current status of hemp-derived CBD, which means it won’t be regulated, and the only legal industry to have use, will be big pharma. Luckily, we can make a difference as individuals, and members of voting constituencies. Get on your activist boots, and tell your congressmen to regulate hemp-derived CBD now!
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.