WASHINGTON — Eric Wang, vice president of the US Hemp Roundtable, encouraged legislature to incorporate language in the 2023 farm bill that would regulate cannabidiol (CBD) and other non-intoxicating hemp derivatives as dietary supplements. Other speakers agreed in a July 28 hearing held by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research.

The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, the latest farm bill, legalized the growth and sale of hemp in the United States. The US Food and Drug Administration, however, does not allow CBD, a hemp extract, in foods, beverages or dietary supplements because it is found in Epidiolex, an FDA-approved drug.

“The hemp industry has been severely hampered by the slowness of the federal Food and Drug Administration to create a regulatory pathway for hemp-derived cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol,” said Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture. “Without clear direction from FDA regarding products containing hemp-derived CBD, large retailers will not carry the products and many business leaders are reluctant to move forward with the development and manufacture of CBD-related products. That reluctance, in turn, has dampened industry demand for harvested hemp material.”

The uncertainty and lack of regulation affect both farmers and consumers, said Mr. Wang, who also is chief executive officer of Ecofibre, a hemp technology company that has offices in Australia as well as Georgetown, Ky., and Greensboro, NC.

“Bad actors are selling products without appropriate safeguards and misleading consumers with false label claims,” he said.

Hemp and marijuana both are Cannibas sativa. Regulation in the United States defines marijuana as containing more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp has less than 0.3%.

“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,” said subcommittee member Jim Baird, a representative from Indiana. “So I would encourage us to include that in our discussions about the 2023 farm bill.

Subcommittee chairwoman Stacey Plaskett, a representative from the Virgin Islands, said, “Thank you, and I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment.”