CBD Foods and Supplements Would Get Equal Billing with Non-CBD Products for FDA Review Under a Newly Filed Senate Bill

Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on anything anymore, but last week they found common ground on something the cannabis industry has been calling for at least three years: a legal pathway to give cannabidiol (CBD) food and supplements equal billing before the FDA.
Written by 
Joan Oleck, Cannabis Journalist.
|Last Updated:

A potential pathway came in the form of a U.S. Senate bill filed last week. Its bipartisan sponsors are four senators – cannabis advocates Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Democrats of Oregon, and Rand Paul, a conservative Republican from the major hemp-growing state of Kentucky. Their Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act of 2021 would give CBD foods and supplements the same regulatory status for the Food and Drug Administration’s review as non-CBD products.

The FDA is the federal agency which ensures the efficacy, safety and security of human and veterinary foods and drugs, among other products.

As the trade site publication Nutraceuticals World reported, “The [current] regulatory framework surrounding the [Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act] prevents FDA from setting clear regulatory frameworks for hemp and hemp-derived CBD when used as food and supplement ingredients.” If the senators’ bill passes (and gets approval from the U.S. House and president), CBD foods and supplements would enjoy the same protections as non-CBD products approved by the FDA.

Equal status for CBD brands has been an important industry goal since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp. However, the 2018 legislation did not specifically approve hemp-derived CBD foods and supplements. The resulting hole in CBD’s status has been a nerve-racking issue for CBD edibles and topicals companies ever since.

If the current legislation passes, hemp farmers would have a more stable market for their harvests; and, presumably that market, already booming, would expand still further.

Consumers, meanwhile, would be more confident buying CBD-derived foods and supplements, knowing that the FDA had screened them, just as the agency screens non-CBD products. That FDA review would be reflected in future packaging and labeling requirements.

“Americans deserve to have assurances that the hemp and CBD products they include in their food and dietary supplement choices are properly regulated,” Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), a trade organization representing dietary supplements, told Nutraceutical World.

The Natural Products Association, another trade group representing the dietary supplements industry, said, however, that the legislation would be insufficient without the establishment of a safe level of daily consumption for CBD.

Joan Oleck
Joan Oleck
Cannabis Journalist
Joan Oleck is a freelance writer currently specializing in the cannabis industry and cannabis tech. She has been an editor and reporter on staff for such publications as Forbes.com, Business Week, Newsday and The Detroit News. She won the Jesse Neal Award for best feature series in a trade publication, Restaurant Business, and a GLAAD Award for a Salon story about discrimination in adoption against single and gay parents

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