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Hemp groups: Trump could help resolve FDA CBD barrier

Donald Trump 2020
Editorial credit: Drop of Light /
In a letter to President Trump, seven hemp organizations suggested his administration could work with Congress on a legislative solution to resolve a barrier facing the CBD industry.

Seven hemp organizations on Tuesday wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, thanking him for supporting farmers and stating his administration could help resolve a “regulatory barrier” facing the CBD industry.

The hemp industry has experienced tremendous growth since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, with domestic hemp production growing from 25,500 acres in 2017 to 78,000 acres in 2018 to 511,442 acres in 2019, according to the letter. Citing Hemp Business Journal, the groups reported U.S. sales of hemp products are projected to reach $2.6 billion by 2022, up from $820 million in 2018.

“The domestic hemp industry is barely 1 year old, and the projected numbers on what our nascent industry can produce are impressive,” the organizations wrote.

Despite removing hemp and its derivatives from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the 2018 Farm Bill preserved FDA’s authority to regulate certain cannabis-derived products. And while FDA has been exploring potential regulatory pathways for CBD in conventional food and dietary supplements, many hemp and supplement groups have grown frustrated over lack of any rules or guidance.

“There are still market uncertainties for our nascent industry, and it is critical to open end markets for crops,” the hemp organizations wrote to Trump. “The administration could play a crucial role by resolving the regulatory barrier created by FDA that has prevented FDA from recognizing cannabidiol (CBD) as a legitimate botanical ingredient for use in food and dietary supplement products.”

“Any support for a legislative solution in removing this regulatory burden would be sincerely appreciated,” the letter added.

Organizations that signed the letter included the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association, Midwest Hemp Council, Minnesota Industrial Hemp Association, Missouri Hemp Trade Association, North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association, Virginia Hemp Coalition and Vote Hemp.

"President Trump gave the hemp industry the green light when he signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law," Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, said in an email. "The industry has great potential to help American farmers and create jobs, but we need support to help processors get established and grow the market."

The letter was addressed to the president, but it also was sent to Vice President Mike Pence, the chiefs of staff for Trump and Pence, and some members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives—including, among others, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky who championed passage of the Farm Bill; and Rep. Collin Peterson, Democrat from Minnesota and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, who introduced CBD legislation earlier this year.

“Our industry is young and shows great promise,” the letter concluded. “Seeds have already begun to go into the ground for the 2020 harvest. We stand ready to rebuild our economy.”

A White House press line could not be immediately reached Tuesday evening for comment. 

The Trump "administration is highly supportive of industries that produce and manufacture in the U.S., and the domestic hemp program, which was enacted under this administration, is exactly such industry," Tami Wahl, a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., who works on hemp legislation, said in an email. "There is a demand for this crop by stakeholders that want to support U.S. hemp farmers; however, the regulatory uncertainty created by FDA has compromised these end markets."

FDA has agreed that "a legislative solution is the most expedient resolution, and time is of the essence for both hemp farmers and the economy," the lobbyist added. "Be it HR 5587, the bill introduced by Chair Peterson earlier this year, or some iteration of it, a legislative fix is warranted and the [Trump] administration is positioned to facilitate."




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