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A pair of Oregon Senators are leading the way in efforts to convince the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to loosen restrictions that are keeping keep CBD from being included in food, beverage and dietary supplement products.

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley composed a joint letter to FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, urging the FDA to “immediately begin updating regulations for hemp-derived CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids, and give U.S. producers more flexibility in the production, consumption and sale of hemp products.” Wyden and Merkley worked with Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass the Hemp Farming Act, a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that expanded federal authority over the marketing and production of hemp.

The Senators included four key questions in their letter and asked the FDA to respond within 30 days. As of the publish date of this post, the FDA has yet to respond to these items.

1) What steps is FDA advancing to clarify to the public the authority the agency has in the production and marketing of hemp, specifically Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives.

2) What lawful pathways are currently available for those who seek approval to introduce Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives as a food, beverage or dietary supplement, including into interstate commerce.

3) Are there circumstances in which Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives may be permitted as a food, beverage or dietary supplement by the agency.

4) Will the agency consider issuing a regulation, or pursing a process, that would allow Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives in food, beverages or dietary supplements that cross state lines?

Current Restrictions On Food and Drink Products With CBD

Despite the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removing hemp as a scheduled substance, the FDA still has the authority to regulate CBD. They have maintained their stance that food and beverage products containing CBD may not be sold across state lines and that CBD can’t be sold in dietary supplements.

Several cities and states have also started to take action against restaurants, bars and coffee shops that include CBD in items they sell. New York City recently ordered 11 restaurants to stop using CBD as a food and drink additive, while Maine, Ohio and California health officials instituted similar bans.

A Silver Lining?

After the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law last December, Gottlieb acknowledged in a statement that the FDA is considering whether to pursue a regulation that would permit CBD in dietary supplements and food products. Although it’s unclear when (or if) this will take place, the FDA does appear to be far more receptive to the idea than in previous years.

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