House Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan CBD Regulation Bills

A bipartisan duo of US House legislators has introduced a pair of CBD regulation bill proposals to regulate the hemp-derived cannabinoid, arguing that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has failed to regulate the popular cannabinoid despite the legalization of hemp with the 2018 Farm Bill. The two bills, which were introduced in the House of Representatives on March 17, are sponsored by Ohio Democratic Rep. Annie Craig and Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Virginia.

“The Food and Drug Administration has dragged its feet in properly regulating CBD and hemp-derived products on the market, creating confusion about its legal uses,” Griffith said in a statement from the congressman’s office. “Americans need better guidance and that’s why I’ve introduced these two pieces of legislation, which will create a pathway for regulation in both the food and dietary supplement spaces.”

The first measure, the Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2023, would make hemp, cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp and other hemp-derived products lawful for use as a dietary supplement unless otherwise directed by the FDA. The second bill, the CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act, directs the FDA to establish rules to regulate CBD as the agency would for other food ingredients, including setting requirements for the quality and labeling of CBD products.

“In Minnesota, we’ve seen firsthand that our local governments and small businesses need more guidance when it comes to CBD and hemp-derived products,” Craig said. “That’s why I’ve partnered with Rep. Griffith on these bipartisan bills to better regulate CBD products, keep consumers safe and ensure our hemp farmers and businesses have the support they need.”

Interest in CBD exploded in the US after Congress legalized hemp with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The cannabinoid is available in a range of consumer products, including vapes, tinctures and topicals, with consumers turning to CBD goods for a variety of health conditions, including pain, anxiety and sleep disorders. The FDA has oversight over CBD because it’s the active ingredient in Epidiolex, an oral formulation derived from cannabis that was approved by the agency to treat specific forms of childhood epilepsy in June 2018.

FDA Sought CBD Guidance From Congress In January

The introduction of the two CBD regulation bills comes after the FDA announced earlier this year that there are too many uncertainties about the safety of CBD for the agency to regulate the cannabinoid under its current structure. The FDA also called on Congress to provide further guidance on CBD, citing safety concerns about CBD, including the potential of the cannabis compound to cause liver damage and potential negative effects on the male reproductive system and on children and pregnant women.

“We haven’t found adequate evidence to determine how much CBD can be consumed, and for how long, before causing harm,” FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement from the agency on January 26, adding that “after careful review, the FDA has concluded that a new regulatory pathway for CBD is needed that balances individuals’ desire for access to CBD products with the regulatory oversight needed to manage risks.”

The FDA suggested several aspects of regulation for consideration by Congress, including packaging and labeling requirements, limits on CBD levels and testing for potency and safety. The agency also cited possible negative effects on pets and livestock, again looking to lawmakers for further guidance on the issue.

“CBD also poses risks to animals, and people could be unknowingly exposed to CBD through meat, milk and eggs from animals fed CBD,” Woodcock wrote. “Because it’s not apparent how CBD products could meet the safety standard for substances in animal food, we also don’t intend to pursue rulemaking allowing the use of CBD in animal food. A new regulatory pathway could provide access and oversight for certain CBD-containing products for animals.”

The new legislation from Griffith and Craig is supported by dozens of hemp and cannabis activists, businesses and nonprofit organizations, including the National Cannabis Industry Association, Americans for Safe Access, the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the US Hemp Roundtable, said that the two bills are “critical legislation that’s integral for hemp farmers, CBD producers and consumers.”

“The FDA has made it clear that legislative action by Congress is needed to solve its CBD regulatory problem and these two bipartisan bills re-introduced by Reps. Griffith and Craig serve as the solution,” Miller said in a statement from the hemp industry trade group. “The FDA’s inaction over the past four years has had a devastating impact on US hemp growers, and has left thousands of unregulated products on the marketplace, raising health and safety concerns for consumers.”

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Washington State Lawmakers Approve Interstate Cannabis Commerce Bill

A Washington State legislative committee last week approved a bill that would permit interstate cannabis commerce between companies in states that have legalized marijuana. The measure, House Bill 1159, was advanced by the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee with a 6-5 vote on February 14. Passage of the bill comes one month after a legislative committee voted to approve companion legislation in the Washington State senate.

The bill would permit state officials to reach agreements governing interstate cannabis commerce with other states that have legalized marijuana. To be enacted, the bill requires other states to adopt similar policies and for the federal government to approve a plan authorizing cannabis trade across state lines. Federal authorization could come in the form of legislation that allows interstate cannabis commerce or through a legal opinion from the US Department of Justice “allowing or tolerating” cannabis companies to do business with regulated entities in other states, according to the text of the measure. Democratic state Rep. Sharon Wylie, the lead sponsor of the legislation in the Washington House of Representatives, said that the bill continues the work in other states to lay the groundwork for such a policy change.

“This bill attempts to mirror the efforts that are taking place in other recreational legal cannabis states by preparing for interlocal agreements and interstate commerce should the federal government change the rules,” Wylie said before the vote by the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee on February 14.

Other States Already On Board

California and Oregon have already approved proposals to allow cannabis companies to engage in interstate trade, and a bill to permit such trade was introduced in the New Jersey state senate last summer. But even with multiple jurisdictions on board, transfers of marijuana products across state lines will not begin until the federal government approves such a plan.

A companion bill in the Washington state senate was approved by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee with a voice vote last month. At a hearing for the bill, Sen. Karen Keiser, the chair of the committee, said that it was important to take “early action” on the legislation, especially given that it “seems to have pretty substantial support,” according to a report from Marijuana Moment. The companion bill is now being considered by the Senate Rules Committee.

Allowing cannabis interstate commerce would open new markets to independent operators in the industry. Jason C. Adelstone, an associate attorney with the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente LLP, said that a plan would also benefit companies that are already doing business in more than one regulated market.

“Currently, to operate in multiple states, a business must establish operations in each state in which they desire to be licensed,” Adelstone said. “If the interstate transport of marijuana is federally legalized, then an operator could establish a large cultivation facility in, say, Arizona or Southern California that could supply demand throughout the country. This would increase the customer base of a state-legal marijuana business without substantially increasing the cost of satisfying that demand.”

Adelstone notes that the legislation would also benefit cannabis operators in other ways. The bill could help by stabilizing prices on cannabis, writing that “any oversupply of the local market could be sold to out-of-state retailers, which would increase revenue and decrease current costs variable associated with oversupply.”

“Another potential benefit to the federal government permitting interstate transport of marijuana is environmental. Indoor cultivation facilities, like those needed in the northern, colder states, have a huge environmental footprint,” he added. “By allowing interest commerce, these indoor facilities could theoretically be replaced by outdoor cultivation facilities located in places like Arizona and Southern California, which could help with the Biden administration’s goal of reducing carbon emissions.”

Federal Approval Required

While the movement to permit interstate cannabis commerce is making progress at the state level, enacting such a plan requires the approval of Congress or the Justice Department. Adelstone says, however, that such a proposal is unlikely to receive federal approval in the near future, noting that the political climate in Washington, DC would likely prevent a cannabis interstate commerce bill from being passed and signed into law during President Joseph Biden’s current term in office.

“The Democrats are focused on including social equity provisions into any federal marijuana bill, which, depending on how extensive such provisions are, would likely keep the necessary nine Republicans from supporting any such bill in the Senate,” Adelstone wrote. “Additionally, with a presidential election on the horizon, the Republicans are not likely to support giving President Biden a win on an issue that is very popular with voters. SAFE banking and addressing 280E are the primary focus of the industry right now, so I doubt many operators would spend much political capital on pushing an interstate commerce bill.”

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New York Gov. Hochul Signs Bill To Expand Industrial Hemp

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed into law a bill that seeks to expand the states industrial hemp industry. 

The legislation, which was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, aims to “promote greater use of New York-grown industrial hemp by businesses in New York State,” and “instructs the Commissioner of Agriculture & Markets, in collaboration with the Urban Development Corporation, the [New York State] Hemp Workgroup, and industry representatives, to develop a plan to expand market opportunities for industrial hemp that would increase its use in manufacturing and construction materials, including packaging, textiles, and hempcrete.”

“Hemp is the material of the future, and positioning New York as a leading producer of the world’s industrial hemp supply is a winning strategy for fighting the Climate Crisis, bringing large-scale economic development to New York’s rural communities, and unlocking new revenue sources to put our farmers in a better financial position,” Hinchey said in a statement on Tuesday. “I’m proud that my hemp bill has been signed into law, directing our state to seek strategic collaborations to help us usher in a new era of manufacturing power, product creation, and rural economic development around an industry that is nearly untapped around the world.”

Industrial hemp was legalized on the federal level in 2018, when Congress passed a Farm Bill that opened the door for states to allow its cultivation.

State leaders have since eagerly approved their own laws and regulations for hemp production, capitalizing on a burgeoning new industry.

In New York, hemp farmers have been able to get in on the ground floor of another cash crop after Hochul signed a bill in February allowing them to apply for conditional licenses to grow marijuana, which the state legalized for recreational use and sales in 2021. 

“I am proud to sign this bill, which positions New York’s farmers to be the first to grow cannabis and jumpstart the safe, equitable and inclusive new industry we are building,” Hochul said at the time. “New York State will continue to lead the way in delivering on our commitment to bring economic opportunity and growth to every New Yorker in every corner of our great state.”   

Hinchey celebrated the signing of that bill, as well.

“Today is an exciting day in New York as our bill to give New York farmers the ability to start the cannabis market is signed into law. The [new marijuana law] set the foundation for our state to build a truly circular cannabis economy that puts New York farmers and small business dispensaries at the center of growth and production, and with the signing of this bill, farmers can now put seeds in the ground to ensure we meet the demand of this burgeoning industry. I thank Governor Hochul for her quick action on this bill so that we can get to work building the most forward-thinking and socially-equitable cannabis industry in the country,” Hinchey said in a statement at the time.

New York Adult-Use Cannabis Market

Since she took over for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August of 2021, Hochul has been busy getting the state’s new adult-use cannabis industry up and running. 

Hochul, who won her first election as the incumbent governor in last month’s midterms, said in October that she expects the first regulated pot retailers to open their doors to customers by the end of the year. 

 “We expect the first 20 dispensaries to be open by the end of this year,” the Democratic governor said at the time. “And then every month or so, another 20. So, we’re not going to just jam it out there. It’s going to work and be successful.”

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Episode 420 – Holy Moly! Episode 420!

Hosts Kris Krane, Heather Sullivan, Ben Larson, and Shea Gunther (filling in for Brian Adams) talk about the past eight years of podcasting and the current state of the legal cannabis world while also looking ahead to the MJBiz Conference in Vegas. Produced by Shea Gunther.