Lawmakers introduce bill to fully legalize CBD trade

A new federal bill would carve out an exemption for CBD to make trade in the products fully legal.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

July 21, 2023

3 Min Read
Lawmakers introduce bill to fully legalize CBD trade

A bipartisan, bicameral federal bill has been introduced to make the trade in CBD and other hemp-derived products fully legal. 

The bill, “The Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act,” was introduced yesterday by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. 

Breaking the logjam 

After years of deliberating on the issue, FDA said in January that it lacked the authority to regulate CBD. It threw the matter back to Congress to come up with a regulatory solution for the products. 

FDA has sent warning letters to companies marketing CBD and other hemp-derived products, including delta-8 THC, but the letters have focused predominantly on the claims being made on the products. 

Marketers of the products who are not making non-compliant disease claims seem to have little to fear from FDA. But the regulatory limbo surrounding the products has served to restrict market growth and stymie investment. 

The bill’s sponsors said their measure is meant to remove that logjam and bring to full fruition the market that was envisaged with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

“Despite being legally grown in the United States for nearly five years, hemp and hemp-derived CBD are still in a regulatory gray zone that puts consumers at risk and holds producers back,” Sen. Wyden said in a statement that accompanied the introduction of the bill. “The FDA says it needs Congress to act. We’ve got the bill to ensure equal and safe access to hemp-derived CBD.” 
“Hemp-derived CBD products and businesses have earned their recognition in the marketplace, but the FDA, unfortunately, hasn't treated them like any other food additive or dietary supplement,” Sen. Paul said in the statement. 

Related:House bill weighs in on CBD, keeps FDA funding intact

Hearing set on FDA’s inaction 

The introduction of the bill took place on the same day as the announcement of a hearing on the status of hemp products and FDA’s inaction on the issue. 
The hearing, “Hemp in the Modern World: The Yearslong Wait for FDA Action,” is scheduled for July 27 and will be hosted by the Health Care and Financial Services Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight.

Carving out specific exemption for hemp

 The bill introduced Thursday, July 20, would amend the so-called drug exclusion clause of DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) to specifically exempt hemp products. Current law excludes an ingredient like CBD from being introduced to the dietary supplement market if it has been first studied or approved as a drug. 
According to its sponsors, the legislation would: 

  • Give hemp-derived CBD products an opportunity to lawfully be used in dietary supplements, foods and beverages under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act; 

  • Prioritize consumer safety, requiring manufacturers to comply with all existing federal regulations for the products that contain CBD; and 

  • Ensure these products are properly labeled. 

AHPA among bill’s supporters 

The legislation has received endorsements from several groups, including the U.S. Hemp Roundtable and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). 
“The leadership of Senators Wyden, Paul and Merkley in resolving this matter is greatly appreciated,” AHPA president Michael McGuffin was quoted in the lawmakers’ news release. “Americans deserve to have assurances that the hemp and CBD products they include in their food and dietary supplement choices are properly regulated.” 


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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