The interim funding bill goes before the House of Representatives today for a vote and is scheduled for a vote Thursday in the Senate. President Trump would need to sign the bill by the latest on Friday to avoid a temporary partial government shutdown in early 2020.
No regulatory framework, but funding for testing, market surveillance
The 1,773-page bill does not include any legislative language relating to hemp/CBD products, despite advocacy by trade organizations and Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jeff Merkely (D-OR) and others. The bill does include a provision that has appeared in other federal regulation recently to forestall money going toward the prevention of the transportation, processing, sale or use of hemp products (including seeds) that come from crops grown in accordance with federal law.
The bill earmarks $2 million in funding for FDA to conduct market surveillance, issuance of an enforcement discretion policy and other activities relating to hemp/CBD products. It also directs the agency to within 60 days of the enactment of the funding measure to report to Congress on its progress in the regulation of these products. The agency is also directed to conduct a sampling study to determine the extent of adulteration in the marketplace for hemp/CBD products. That study is stipulated to be finished within 180 days.
Opponents aren’t throwing in towel
United Natural Products Alliance president Loren Israelsen said the omission of hemp/CBD regulatory language was a disappointment, and sounds a cautionary note that opponents of use of these products and the liberalization of the regulations for them are not giving up.
“What this means is we DO NOT have a resolution toward a regulatory pathway, and we believe that aggressive efforts on the part of FDA and those arguing against a consumer market for HEC (hemp extracts/CBD) have been both effective and convincing in sowing doubt in the minds of Congressional staff and members,” Israelsen said in a memo to UNPA members.
According to a legislative analysis conducted by UNPA, this latest setback on the path toward hemp/CBD regulation is part of a recent trend. The recent increase in warning letters on hemp/CBD products, a speech given by Lowell Schiller, FDA’s principal associate commissioner for policy at a recent industry meeting and a warning on Nov. 25 about the use of hemp/CBD products by pregnant or lactating women are all seen as part of this trend.
In a press release sent out late yesterday, Natural Products Association president and CEO Daniel Fabricant, PhD, said the omission in the funding bill extends what NPA considers to be a dangerous legislative vacuum.
“While providing funding for testing is a positive first step, unfortunately, today’s action falls short of what is needed to protect consumers. The future of the US hemp industry and the farmers and producers who provide it are directly tied to smart regulations for CBD, which includes FDA establishing a safe level of consumption so consumers are protected. We are concerned that if Congress fails to act next year, then we could see another vaping-like public health crisis,” he said.