Hemp groups request House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing

Stakeholders in the hemp sector asked leaders of a congressional committee with oversight of the Food and Drug Administration to hold a hearing on future regulation of hemp products.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

January 24, 2024

2 Min Read

Twenty-eight nonprofit organizations on Wednesday urged leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold a hearing regarding the purported failure of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the hemp market, including CBD.

The groups that signed a letter addressed to Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) include organizations with members in the dietary supplement industry, including the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

McMorris Rodgers chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Pallone is ranking member.

“In the more than five years since the legalization of hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill, in spite of a designated annual appropriation, the FDA has taken no meaningful steps toward the regulation of hemp — whether it be animal feed or extracts for human consumption like CBD,” the 28 groups asserted in the Jan. 24 letter made public by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable.

A year ago, FDA determined it needed a new regulatory pathway for CBD because the existing frameworks for foods and supplements are not appropriate. The agency said it was prepared to work with Congress on a new pathway.

“Meanwhile, thousands of unregulated products continue to be sold, causing great consumer confusion and advantaging bad actors via-a-vis good faith manufacturers who want to play by the rules and offer healthy products,” the letter said.

Related:Is CBD facing an existential crisis?

Last year, a few congressional committees — including the House Energy and Commerce Committee — sought public comment through a request for information (RFI) on future hemp regulation and reportedly received hundreds of responses. The Jan. 24 letter acknowledged the House Agriculture and House Oversight committees have held hearings related to hemp, but the groups said the committee with jurisdiction (over FDA) “must weigh in for there to be meaningful action.”

The 28 groups requested the leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee “take immediate steps to hold a hearing” and publicize the ideas shared in response to the RFI.

“The FDA’s inaction is hurting farmers and putting consumers at risk,” the letter concluded. “Further, U.S. farmers have been crushed economically by the lack of regulations, with commodity prices dropping across the board by more than 90 percent. This delay has posed significant problems and obstacles for other downstream hemp products including fiber and grain offtakes that include construction materials, bioplastics, biofuels and food ingredients. And with the rescheduling of marijuana apparently imminent, lack of regulatory certainty for hemp will pose an even more urgent crisis for farmers, consumers, state regulators and law enforcement.”

Related:Hemp group releases list of priorities for new farm bill

A spokesperson for the House Energy and Commerce Committee did not immediately respond Wednesday to an emailed request for comment on the letter.

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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