Last Friday, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House of Representatives that would legalize cannabidiol (CBD) and other hemp-derived products for use in dietary supplements. The bill—H.R. 8179—was co-sponsored by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and is referred to as the “Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2020.”
In the wake of Congress passing the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA acknowledged that while the bill legalized hemp and the use of hemp and its constituents, such as CBD, it did not amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to permit the use of hemp or hemp-derived products in dietary supplements. That prohibition was based on the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act banning the use of active drug ingredients in dietary supplements, coupled with CBD being the active drug ingredient in the anti-seizure drug EPIDIOLEX.
Despite intense public and Congressional pressure, the FDA has neither budged on its position nor established a clear regulatory framework. We’ve written about this stagnation on our blog several times, including here, here, here, and here. The introduction of this new CBD bill appears to be another attempt to try to resolve this pressing issue. Indeed, Rep. Griffith released a statement acknowledging that “the current state of regulation creates confusion about [hemp’s] legal uses. I joined this bipartisan bill to provide certainty for hemp farmers that their crop may find legal uses.”
It seems unlikely that this standalone bill will gain much traction anytime soon given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming election. Further, a similar bill was introduced in the House this past January that would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to include CBD in the definition of dietary supplements. That bill has not progressed to a hearing or vote despite predating the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and being introduced by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the chair of the House Agriculture Committee. Even if the new CBD bill likewise stagnates, it still sends the message that this is an important issue that needs attention.