CBD stakeholders circle wagons against Farm Bill amendment that could gut industry

A controversial amendment to the U.S. House version of the pending federal Farm Bill has been passed in a bloc vote. The way it would alter the law could drive CBD firms out of business, critics maintain.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

May 28, 2024

4 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Amendment to Farm Bill seen as existential threat to CBD industry. 
  • Hemp definition would be altered in such a way as to exclude many existing products. 
  • Some stakeholders claim it may be an end run by marijuana companies to squelch competition from CBD firms. 

A hemp product trade group and other CBD industry stakeholders are martialing efforts to forestall the implementation of an amendment to the pending federal Farm Bill that would ban products containing measurable amounts of THC. They say the measure as written would gut the industry. 

On Thursday, May 23, the measure — which is being referred to as the Miller Amendment — passed on a bloc vote with other amendments to the U.S. House version of the pending federal Farm Bill. This means the group of amendments were passed on one vote, without debate or separate votes on the individual measures. 

Trade group: Amendment would ban most products 

The measure was sponsored by Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill. According to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the way Miller’s amendment would alter the definitions in the Farm Bill would ban most ingestible CBD products. 

The federal definition of hemp, the raw material from which all CBD or “full spectrum” hemp products are made, specifies a maximum level of 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight. That definition distinguishes the material from medical or recreational cannabis, even though they are all the same plant from a genus and species perspective (Cannabis sativa). 

CBD and “full spectrum” products made from hemp fall square within the crosshairs of Miller’s amendment, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable warns. 

If the Farm Bill were to be passed with the amendment, it “would not only ban potentially impairing products like delta-8, but it would bring under a new prohibition all non-intoxicating CBD products with any quantifiable amount of THC – meaning 90-95% of the hemp products market would be federally banned,” the group wrote on a post last week. 

Expert: Ban would negate much of the science in the sector 

Sibyl Swift, Ph.D., chief science officer and vice president of regulatory affairs for cbdMD, said the amendment flies in the face of established science, and amounts to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 

“I’m going to pretend they’re well intentioned. The intention would be to make sure that intoxicating products don’t somehow make it onto the market. But the way they’re going about it negates the science around what full spectrum, non-intoxicating products can do,” Swift told Natural Products Insider. 

According to a message Rep. Miller posted on the social media site X, her intent was to close a perceived loophole for intoxicating cannabinoids other than delta-9 THC. 

I am offering an amendment to close the loophole that legalized intoxicating hemp products like ‘Delta-8,’ which is being marketed to teenagers and children,” Miller said in the post. 

However, some observers in the hemp products sphere believe the amendment is part of a push on the part of marijuana companies (those involved in the production and marketing of medical and recreational cannabis products, in other words) to corner the market and drive out what they see as unwanted competition. 

The amendment specifies the following changes to the federal definition of hemp products: 

  • Changes the definition of “hemp” such that total THC (not just by dry weight of raw material) must not exceed 0.3%. 

  • Excludes viable seeds from marijuana plants, even though the DEA recognizes those as “hemp.” 

  • Excludes cannabinoids found in the plant but which were synthesized in a manufacturing facility. 

  • Excludes products with “quantifiable amounts” of THC, including THCa, and “any other cannabinoids that have similar effects (or which are marketed to have similar effects) on humans or animals as THC.” 

Attempt to restrict competition? 

“Taken together, these provisions of the Miller Amendment strike a deadly blow to the entire hemp cannabinoid industry. If enacted into law, the hemp industry as we know it will no longer exist,” wrote attorney Rod Kight in a recent post, who specializes in advising clients in the cannabis sector. “If you read the provisions carefully, it should be clear that the Miller Amendment was not written by a hack or even someone who is simply concerned about so-called ‘intoxicating cannabinoids.’ This amendment was written by insiders with a very specific agenda.” 

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable is calling on members and other interested parties to exert pressure on Congress to keep the Farm Bill from becoming law with the Miller Amendment in place. The group is asking members and interested parties to sign on to a campaign aimed at affecting the final version of the bill, which they say is unlikely to pass this year. 

“We’ve adjusted our email campaign – now we are asking all representatives to vote against the Farm Bill unless the Mary Miller Amendment is removed,” the group stated in a recent post.  

 

 

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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