Hazy CBD food and drink rules confronted by federal lawmakers
CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids are legal in all 50 states. But can they be called food? Washington, D.C. legislators are working to clear the air (and plates).
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids if they do not contain more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. While the bill states the FDA has oversight of these compounds, it failed to create clear rules around the use of hemp in food and drinks, which are already widely available across the country but so far unregulated.
Despite the authority granted to the FDA, the agency contends it cannot regulate hemp-based products under the current system. They have instead asked Congressional leaders to clarify.
Currently, the FDA classifies CBD as a drug, meaning it technically cannot be used as a food ingredient or supplement. This legal gray area has led to headaches for hemp businesses and local governments alike, creating confusion about whether these products are compliant—and safe.
“Congress clearly intended for consumable hemp products to have standard product oversight when it passed the 2018 Farm Bill, and the FDA’s inaction has harmed public safety and the stability of the promising new hemp industry,” Shawn Hauser, partner at Vicente Sederberg, a leading cannabis law firm, told GreenState Monday.
Pair of Bills Would Allow Cannabinoids in Food, Create Regulations
Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Angie Craig (D-MN) have re-introduced two bills declaring hemp-derived cannabinoids lawful as food and food ingredients. The bills would also establish rules around these products.
The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act (H.R. 841) was initially introduced in early 2021 and would add hemp-derived cannabinoids like CBD to the list of approved dietary supplements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).
The other bill, the CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act (H.R. 6134), first introduced in December of 2021, calls for the United States Food and Drug Association (FDA) to develop regulations on things like packaging, labeling, and per-serving doses of cannabinoids.
“The importance of this long-overdue legislation that would remove barriers in existing law to allow the FDA to appropriately regulate CBD and other hemp derivatives as food and dietary supplements cannot be overstated,” Hauser explained in an email. “Consumers and industry are desperate for the basic and fundamental consumer safety regulations these bills would allow.”
Rep. Craig, whose home state of Minnesota has seen an explosion in the number of hemp-derived THC beverages and edibles on the market since the state legalized them last July, believes the bills are critical to protecting consumers and supporting hemp producers.
“In Minnesota, we’ve seen firsthand that our local governments and small businesses need more guidance when it comes to CBD and hemp-derived products,” Craig previously said in an interview with Hemp Today.
H.R. 841 and H.R. 6134 have previously failed to pass in Congress, but growing pressure on lawmakers from the hemp industry and the general public may see the tables turn this legislative session.
“While earlier versions of this bill have not progressed despite bipartisan support, the FDA’s announcement that it cannot regulate CBD without Congressional action and the increasing challenges for consumers, regulators, and businesses that are forced to operate in an impossible 50-state patchwork should underscore the importance of Congress passing this legislation,” Hauser said.
Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of GreenState.com. She has been covering the cannabis space since 2015, and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, and many other niche publications. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie.