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FDA Must Do Better To Regulate Hemp Products

A subcommittee was held on Thursday which discussed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) lack of progress on the regulation of hemp products.

The Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services titled “Hemp in the Modern World: The Yearslong Wait for FDA Action” was opened by Chairwoman Lisa McClain, who urged the FDA to use its existing authority to regulate hemp-derived products.

The FDA asked Congress for more regulatory authority after announcing earlier this year that there needs to be a new regulatory framework for hemp and CBD.

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McClain highlighted that the FDA’s failures had led to the infant formula crisis – where the organization’s lack of action led to a shortage due to safety concerns – and that similarly, the FDA has demonstrated a lack of action on regulating hemp products

McClain stated: “We know that CBD can have a medical use because the FDA approved a prescription CBD drug that is used to treat children with severe forms of epilepsy. We also know that pure CBD does not have a high potential for abuse and cannot cause a “high” because it’s not intoxicating.

“However, if you buy a CBD consumer product off the shelf today, in many cases there’s no way for the average consumer to verify its purity or even the amount of CBD in it, or rely on FDA’s enforcement of regulations.”

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According to McClain, one study that tested almost 3,000 CBD products showed that only one-quarter of brands test their CBD products for purity. It also showed that only 16% of products tested contained exclusively what was stated on their labels.

“That’s because the FDA hasn’t regulated CBD as a dietary supplement or food additive in the five years since hemp was legalized,” said McClain.

“It’s also common for CBD products to contain contaminants like heavy metals, mold, and THC, which is the intoxicating chemical in the cannabis plant. The widespread usage of CBD products that contain other unknown contaminants has led to children accidentally ingesting and overdosing on THC.

“This could be fixed if the FDA did its job and regulated CBD as a dietary supplement. That would mean the FDA would have the enforcement authority to enforce labelling requirements and keep Americans safe and healthy.”

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