Legislation that would finally get the FDA to regulate hemp extracts like CBD has been a topic of much debate within the cannabis industry. Failure to legally recognize and regulate the sale of CBD products has caused immense struggles for hemp farmers, small businesses, and consumers alike. This has caused a number of issues, from economic hardships for farmers, to quality control and a decline in hemp prices. The bill in question is H.R. 841, presently sitting with the U.S. House of Representatives.
What is House Bill H.R.841?
Introduced by Representative Kurt Schrader [D-OR] and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), house bill H.R. 841, The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act, would allow “the use of hemp, cannabidiol (i.e., CBD) derived from hemp, or any other ingredient derived from hemp in a dietary supplement, provided that the supplement meets other applicable requirements.” Presently, the FDA does not allow CBD products to be sold as dietary supplements, and this bill would permit CBD to be marketed as such.
The Argument for CBD as a Dietary Supplement
Lawfully marketing hemp-derived CBD and other non-intoxicating hemp ingredients as a dietary supplement would bring a number of important benefits to the industry and consumers alike. With a wide range of powerful medical benefits, many people rely on CBD for its treatment options for a variety of ailments. Studies suggest CBD can benefit in the offset of anxiety and depression, treatment of epileptic seizures, reduce PTSD symptoms, aid irregular sleep patterns, and so much more.
To pass, H.R. 841 would protect consumers by ensuring access to top quality CBD products. For years, hemp farmers have been faced with regulatory uncertainty, causing many issues for the manufacturing of CBD products. Economic hardship has caused some small businesses in the industry to cut corners, producing hemp products that are not suitable for market, and yet all the same are available for sale.
Those who oppose H.R. 841 argue that it would cut short the FDA’s current efforts and create an unsafe CBD market. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, explains:
“They’re arguing that if this bill passes that there would be unsafe CBD products in the marketplace. And it’s just the opposite. There are currently unsafe products in the marketplace because there is no regulation. And that’s why we so desperately need 841, which would provide for an existing regulatory regime for dietary supplements to govern the manufacture of CBD products.”
Strict quality control is extremely important in the cannabis industry. A variety of methods of consumption and rise in popularity leaves many opportunities for unsafe products to exist on the market, and so “a multitude of CBD products continue to be sold, some of which raise significant quality, safety and other consumer protection concerns” (U.S. Hemp Roundtable). While consumers can make choices to protect themselves at the time of purchase, there is a lack of widespread knowledge to these options. It is up to the manufacturers to to produce quality products. The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act would ensure exactly that is happening, giving the FDA more tools to oversee the market bringing greater confidence to CBD products available to consumers.
Not only that, but H.R. 841 would help to stabilize the hemp markets, bringing profitability to a hurting industry. Most leading companies are struggling with growth and profitability, as a skyrocketing hemp supply depressed prices. Many hemp advocates believe these hardships to be a direct result of the FDA not allowing the sale of CBD as a food product or dietary supplement. This prevents many brands from selling CBD products, creating both a production and profit decline. Without a demand, prices crash, and thus the industry needs H.R. 841 to pass.
We’re All in This Together
Unfortunately, while the CBD industry is in favor of H.R. 841, many in the cannabis industry oppose it. It is crucial that this not become a CBD vs. THC issue, and rather is understood as patients vs. ongoing government restrictions.
The 2018 Farm Bill was passed with the intent to allow access to hemp in all 50 states. Hemp is defined as any cannabis plant, or derivative thereof, that contains not more than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) on a dry-weight basis. Prior to the enactment of this bill, the Controlled Substances Act did not differentiate between cannabis and hemp. However, in these past 4 years the two became their own respective industries.
Despite being defined, CBD remains vulnerable to state regulations that may inhibit consumer access. Certain states are attempting to regulate hemp and cannabis together, rather than acknowledging they are two separate industries. Placing them in the same category may have damaging effects on those who have been using a quality hemp product as their medicine for years now. A hemp product that is in the supply chain could be easily removed if, for example, a THC potency cap was placed as a milligram per container in addition to the original 0.3% limit. The FDA regulating the products derived from hemp may provide and ensure access to all consumers – following through with the intentions of the 2018 Farm Bill.
When it comes down to it, this is not a CBD vs THC industry issue. This is about the individuals who are using these therapies as their medicine and standing behind legislation that supports their access.
The time to take action is now! If you are a CBD consumer, know someone who benefits from its use, or are passionate about advocating for the consumption we urge you to support the H.R. 841 efforts. Our friends at the U.S. Hemp Roundtable have created an easy to use form so that you can write your Congressperson and either ask that they co-sponsor H.R. 841 or thank them for signing on. You can help further by encouraging your friends and family to fill out the form, and spread the word by sharing this educational blog across your social media channels.