Can the farm bill save hemp (again)?

Short of standalone Congressional legislation, much less FDA action to create regulations that support consumer access to hemp CBD, the next vehicle to alter the market remains the farm bill.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

May 22, 2023

2 Min Read
Hemp and CBD after the 2018 Farm Bill.jpg

Yes, consumers have naturally gravitated toward hemp CBD and have demanded access to the primary hemp cannabinoid. But what has really pushed the market along is laws signed and regulations … not.

The 2014 farm bill really allowed hemp CBD to take off in the consumer market—and without question the 2018 farm bill led to the wild growing season of 2019 (which, ahem, led to overproduction and a consequent market collapse on the producer side).

With hemp CBD not exactly making it out of the pandemic alive, everyone is searching for a way out of the doldrums. The FDA had a big-time public meeting in March 2019, and said it would take that information gained there to help it devise appropriate regulations. But then FDA outgoing commissioner Scott Gottlieb said it would take the agency a good three years to design those regulations. But then, after all, the FDA eventually settled on not doing anything.

“The FDA [in September 2022] threw its hands up and said, ‘We don’t think we have the wherewithal to do it on its own,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an industry trade group. “We have a vehicle with the farm bill this year.”

Not even the low-hanging fruit of the SAFE Banking Act, which would at least allow financial firms the ability to gain access to the cannabis market, has been able to pass Congressional muster. But could the third time be the charm (again) for the hemp industry to support legislation to improve its market stature?

Related:Hemp groups align on 2023 Farm Bill priorities, including CBD regulation

“We’ve been advocating for CBD to have a legitimate pathway in supplements ever since the last farm bill,” said Mister. “The 2023 farm bill provides a new opportunity to get Congress to move forward and legalize hemp cannabinoids.”

Mister said he is concerned with the FDA’s pronouncement that it lacks the regulatory authority it needs and would like to create a different regulatory category for cannabis, hemp especially.

“There’s no reason FDA cannot regulate CBD and the other cannabinoids as an herbal under DSHEA.”

He said if the FDA is able to undermine DSHEA and open up legislative movement for a whole new supplement model, that is not likely something Mister said the Council for Responsible Nutrition could support.

About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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