Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

July 20, 2023

4 Min Read
Congressional hearing scheduled on FDA 'inaction,’ hemp

A health subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight intends to hold a hearing next week related to FDA regulation of hemp, and one of the people testifying will be the general counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, Jonathan Miller.

The hearing, “Hemp in the Modern World: The Yearslong Wait for FDA Action,” is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on July 27 in room 2247 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

“I am honored to serve as a witness for this historic hearing to testify to the extraordinary challenges faced by hemp farmers and CBD consumers over the past five years,” Miller said in a press release. "The U.S. Hemp Roundtable is grateful to Chairman James Comer, subcommittee chair Lisa McClain, and ranking member Katie Porter for this critical opportunity. I look forward to shedding light on the urgent need for clear regulations that ensure consumer safety and promote the growth of the hemp industry.”

According to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, Miller intends to testify on the adverse consequences of FDA “inaction” in regulating hemp products, specifically “the tremendous disruption to hemp farmers and businesses—as well as the threats to consumer health and safety.”

FDA in January denied three citizen petitions that requested it create a pathway to market for hemp-based CBD products. The agency has concluded the regulatory frameworks for foods and supplements are not appropriate for CBD, though it has committed to working with Congress on a new pathway and has laid out a proposed harm-reduction framework.

Related:FDA, industry preaching opposing CBD narratives on Capitol Hill

FDA also has expressed concerns about delta-8 THC, an intoxicating, hemp-based cannabinoid. Early this month, FDA and the Federal Trade Commission jointly sent cease-and-desist letters to six companies marketing edible products containing delta-8 THC in packaging resembling many snacks and candy eaten by children.

Besides Miller, other witnesses who will testify include Rayetta G. Henderson, Ph.D., senior managing scientist of ToxStrategies LLC; and Richard A. Badaracco, president-elect of the Kentucky Narcotic Officers Association and (retired) assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to a Comer spokesperson.

“The FDA has failed for too long to do its job to ensure the safety of legalized hemp-derived products. Without these regulations, dangerous products could make their way to the shelves while safe and credible CBD products could be prevented from entering the market," Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services, said in a statement. "We are going to investigate why exactly the FDA has decided to ignore their regulation responsibilities related to CBD and other areas of jurisdiction. We need to ensure that the FDA is not setting what would be a dangerous precedent and using this as an opportunity to seek more authority and resources from Congress."

FDA had no immediate comment on the scheduled hearing.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been hearing starkly different messages from the Food and Drug Administration and hemp industry stakeholders on the safety profile of cannabidiol (CBD) and whether the agency needs additional authorities to regulate the compound in food and dietary supplements. The conflicting narratives highlight differences of opinion between industry and government on what modern science says about CBD, and the scope of FDA’s authorities to regulate a cannabis-based compound that doesn’t produce the psychoactive effects of marijuana.

In April, Comer sent a letter to the commissioner of FDA and said his committee was investigating its recent announcement regarding FDA's authority to regulate CBD products as dietary supplements.

"The lack of regulation of non-intoxicating CBD products have allowed for potentially dangerous products to enter the market in the form of Delta-8 and other hemp-derived intoxicants, leading to increasing concern that some products contain potentially dangerous ingredients due to the lack of regulation," Comer wrote to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. "Proper regulation from the FDA would not only prevent bad faith actors from entering the market but will increase the amount of good faith manufacturers’ contributions of a useful product for the American public."



About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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