Prioritize Consumer Safety: Our response to a Congressional Request for Information on Federal Cannabinoid Hemp Regulation

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Posted by on August 22, 2023

Last week, Americans for Safe Access responded to a bicameral Congressional Request for Information on cannabinoid hemp regulation from the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce and the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

In January 2023, FDA announced that it would like to work with Congress to craft a legislative approach to the regulation of CBD products. In July, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ), along with Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), announced a bicameral Request for Information (RFI) regarding Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of CBD.

The purpose of the Request for Information was to assess “the potential for a regulatory pathway for hemp-derived CBD products that prioritizes consumer safety and provides certainty to the U.S. market.”

The request asked “subject matter experts and stakeholders” to provide them with information on “concerns FDA has raised with regard to regulating most CBD products through existing pathways”, how the “absence of federal regulation over CBD created a market for intoxicating, synthetically-produced compounds” and how Congress should “consider federal preemption as it works towards a regulatory pathway” just to name a few. 

ASA’s response highlights the need for a comprehensive federal regulatory approach that addresses all cannabinoid hemp products and forms. In our response, ASA notes “The federal prohibition of medical cannabis has led to a confusing set of laws and regulations across the U.S” and that by “only addressing CBD regulations, Congress will potentially be required to repeat this process a hundred times.”

ASA also pointed out that as Congress looks to regulate CBD for use for human and animal consumption, it is our view that a comprehensive approach should be taken that includes the creation of the Office of Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids Control (OMCCC) housed in HHS & the creation of new schedule for cannabis and cannabinoid products,  Schedule VI overseen by OMCCC. This would allow Congress to create a definition of “hemp products” for the Farm Bill that would fit into existing regulations at the FDA and USDA.

These actions would address not only FDA’s inability to regulate CBD, but also the uncertainty facing businesses wanting to provide these various products to their respective markets, clarify that any substance not occurring naturally in commercial quantities would require an NDA before being sold to consumers, disparities in product safety protocols across the country and the ongoing conflict between state and federal medical cannabis laws.  

ASA also offered the following resources for their consideration: 

Right now congress is only looking at adult use and CBD regulatory pathways. ASA is asking for a comprehensive solution, one that prioritizes patients and consumer safety, rather than a piecemeal approach that will likely need to be adjusted in the future multiple times. 

Urgent federal regulatory action is needed to protect consumer safety and public health in regulating the wide range of products available as “hemp” today. Your members of Congress need to hear from you that there is another way. You can help us by taking action now! 

Visit our Safe Access 4 All campaign to see what you can do to shine a light on issues facing patients and the role Congress can play in creating solutions.

Take Action Today!

Engage Your Representatives

According to a survey of congressional staffers conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation, members of Congress are more likely to be swayed on an issue by concerned citizens who visit, write, or call their offices than by the efforts of paid lobbyists. As it turns out, you have more power than they realize!

Educate the Media

Local and national media play a pivotal role in disseminating information about cannabis therapeutics and the challenges patients encounter. As an advocate, your role is crucial in influencing how medical cannabis news is presented and received by the public. 

Share Your Story

Personal narratives have the power to humanize the issues and drive emotional connections. By sharing your own experiences or those of loved ones impacted by the absence of a federal medical cannabis program, you can create relatable stories that resonate with the public, policymakers, and the media alike. As cannabis legislation advances, patient voices must be heard if we are going to enact the kind of changes that effect and improve the patient experience!

Get the Word Out

In order to build momentum for federal medical cannabis legislation, we must embrace our roles as advocates and Educate, Inspire, and Mobilize! ASA has created an Outreach Tool Kit that empowers individuals to roll up their sleeves and step into their advocate roles, actively contributing to the transformation of public perception and policy on medical cannabis.

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