Baird, Plaskett: Consider adding CBD to farm bill discussions
Near the end of a subcommittee hearing on hemp Thursday, Rep. Jim Baird, R-Minn., the ranking member on the House Agriculture Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Subcommittee, said “We’ve heard a lot of great recommendations for the 2023 farm bill here, and one that I’d like to add is that the FDA hasn’t really had any kind of regulatory framework for hemp-derived CBD, so I would encourage us to include that in our discussions about the 2023 farm bill.”
Rep. Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate from the Virgin Islands who chairs the subcommittee, responded, “Thank you, and I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment.”
The exchange took place at the end of a hearing at which stakeholders presented a wide variety of proposals to change U.S. policy at the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration, and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, presented her proposed Hemp Advancement Act.
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable noted that Eric Wang, CEO of Kentucky-based Ecofibre, and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles urged committee members to incorporate language into the 2023 farm bill that would regulate CBD and other hemp-derived compounds.
Plaskett noted that except for a period during World War II, the hemp industry had been outlawed until 2014 when the farm bill removed long-standing federal restrictions on its cultivation and production.
Under the 2018 farm bill USDA established programs to help hemp producers, processors and researchers and in 2021 issued its final ruling on regulating the production of hemp.
Baird told Plaskett, “I do believe it is a missed opportunity that we won’t hear from the federal agencies who are tasked with implementing provisions related to hemp today. Madam chair, I remain hopeful we can find an opportunity to hear from both USDA and FDA.”
Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., the ranking member on the full committee, also expressed his disappointment that neither USDA nor FDA officials testified.
Baird also said he considered it “noteworthy to mention this is the first hearing the House Committee on Agriculture has held on hemp,” and Thompson agreed.
Pingree noted “while the U.S. hemp industry grew rapidly after commercial hemp production was legalized, the industry’s long-term economic viability continues to be uncertain as hemp is a very small crop in terms of production that is still developing.”
“Competition with alternative crops for acreage, global markets and competitiveness, and the ability to manage production, regulatory, and market challenges will continue to impact the overall development in the emerging U.S. hemp industry,” she said.
“Hemp can be used for a variety of products, including rope, textile, and paper,” Pingree noted.
However, Pingree added, regulatory uncertainty around hemp production, hemp processing, and the sale of CBD products has created significant challenges for the industry in Maine.
“While more than 2,000 acres of hemp were planted in Maine in 2019, only 111 farmers received licenses to grow hemp in 2020, accounting for just 211 acres,” she said.
During the hearing, Pingree said she is particularly bothered by the Drug Enforcement Administration lab test requirement and a ban on people with drug-related felony convictions receiving a hemp license.
Reflecting the views of some of the stakeholders who testified, Pingree said the Hemp Advancement Act of 2022 would:
▪ “Raise the allowable THC [Tetrahydrocannabinol] threshold for hemp and in-process hemp extract to make the rules more workable for growers and processors while ensuring that final hemp products sold to consumers aren’t intoxicating.
▪ “Remove the requirement that hemp testing occur in DEA-registered laboratories, which is a particular challenge in Maine where there aren’t any of these facilities.
▪ “End the 10-year ban on people with drug-related felony convictions receiving a hemp license, which disproportionately excludes communities of color from participating in this emerging market.”
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