Congress wants to hear from you on CBD by August 18th

Today’s public announcement states that Congress wants to hear from you on a regulatory solution for cannabidiol (CBD) and other hemp-derived cannabinoid products. The request was tabled by the Energy and Trade Committee on July 27, when it issued a Request for Information (RFI) to “interested parties” on the issue. The deadline for RFI responses is August 18, 2023. You can email your thoughts to and by that date.

Why is this happening now? The short answer is that Congress has another shot at the Farm Bill, the federal government’s primary instrument of farm and food policy. In 2018, the Farm Bill removed hemp (and hemp-derived CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act. The Farm Bill is renewed every five years, so policymakers are preparing for the 2023 version on relevant issues – including CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids.

A better regulatory environment for CBD and hemp-derived cannabinoids is badly needed. Trade is exceeding regulations and enforcement is lax. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aware of this and earlier this year released a statement awkwardly titled “Existing regulatory framework for food and dietary supplements is not suitable for cannabidiol, will work with Congress on a new way forward.” The first part of that statement was nothing new from the FDA; The second set was remarkable.

It’s disappointing that the FDA waited nearly four years to release this statement: The agency promised more than four years ago to study how CBD products could legally enter the market. For the most part, though, it seems they’ve been “looking at data” and occasionally sending out warning letters to particularly bad actors (as recently as last month and since 2015). Almost no one grows hemp anymore.

The RFI is quite long, but it is conveniently divided into topics, each containing one or more questions. These topics are:

  • current market dynamics
  • regulatory pathways
  • Definitions for CBD and other cannabinoid products
  • Federal-state interaction
  • Security
  • Quality
  • Form, packaging, accessibility and labeling

And here is what the committee itself summed up as the highlights of the RFI:

  • Please comment on the concerns the FDA has expressed regarding the regulation of most CBD products through existing pathways (ie conventional foods, dietary supplements and cosmetics) and the FDA’s view that there is a need for a new regulatory pathway for CBD products exists. If existing regulatory avenues are sufficient to regulate CBD products, please explain how, if any, those existing avenues could be used to address the concerns raised by the FDA.
  • How has the lack of federal regulation on CBD created a market for intoxicating, synthetically manufactured compounds like Delta-8 THC, THC-O, THC-B, HHC-P, and others?
  • How should a new framework for CBD products balance consumer safety and consumer access?
  • For foods, dietary supplements, tobacco and cosmetics, what is the precedent for labeling requirements posing risks for specific labeling target groups (e.g. children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, consumers taking certain medications, etc.)? What amount and type of evidence was required to support these requirements?

We expect to receive a large number of responses to this RFI before the August 18 deadline. We encourage all interested parties to respond and create a useful administrative file on the subject. Finally, please understand that you do not have to comment on all the points set out in the RFI – it is actually better if you do not! The most useful comments are focused and supported by data and sound policy reasoning. Now is your chance.

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