U.S. politicians are continuing efforts to pass legislation that would establish clear regulations for products containing CBD, following a number of unsuccessful attempts over the past couple years.
On Thursday, a bipartisan group led by Rep. Kathleen Rice introduced a bill that would establish federal standards for CBD food and beverage products with a stated goal of protecting consumers while providing a stable market for farmers, producers and retailers.
CBD products are exploding in popularity, but the lack of federal regulation on them has put consumers at risk and left businesses looking for clarity, Rice said in a statement.
“The bipartisan CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act will establish the clear regulatory framework needed to provide stability for business and ensure unsafe products stay off the shelves. Thank you to my bipartisan colleagues for joining me in introducing this important legislation.”
The legislation would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate CBD like any other food ingredient, and subject products containing the compound to enforceable safeguards, the representatives say.
It also charges the FDA with establishing CBD content limits, packaging and labelling requirements, as well as determining in which categories of food CBD is appropriate for use.
Following the passing of the Farm Bill and the FDA’s lengthy process to approve Epidiolex in 2018, politicians and the industry have been calling for the development of clear regulations, a process that the agency said it was expediting in 2019.
Several attempts to compel the FDA to provide those rules have happened since then, including the bipartisan Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act which was filed by senators in May.
But the lack of rules haven’t deterred everyone — including major weed players like Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: WEED) (Nasdaq: CGC) and Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX: ACB) — from releasing swathes of CBD products in the U.S.
So far, the FDA’s primary mode of enforcement is issuing warning letters.
The representatives say new the bill will help distinguish responsible players from bad actors that ignore federal requirements for quality, manufacturing, labelling and claims, while bringing clarity for the market.
“Years after CBD was decriminalized, a lack of clear federal standards in the CBD industry has left businesses guessing and customers at risk,” Rep. Angie Craig said.
Members of the Consumer Brands Association and the U.S. Hemp Roundtable lauded the legislation.
“Seventy-four per cent of consumers incorrectly believe that CBD is federally regulated, stressing the urgency of the action Representatives Rice, Griffith, Craig and Crenshaw are taking with this important legislation,” noted Betsy Booren, senior VP of regulatory and technical at the CBA.
While the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp-derived CBD from the Controlled Substances Act, it didn’t make changes to existing FDA law or policy governing its use in regulated products, explains Jonathan Miller, general counsel at the U.S. Hemp Roundtable.
“Since then, the market for CBD products has exploded, and CBD is ubiquitously available to consumers in oils, cosmetics, supplements, and foods, and it is even marketed in products for pets,” he says. “The discrepancy between the Controlled Substances Act and FDA law has
created a regulatory gray area in which CBD is widely available but unregulated – and considered illegal – by FDA.”