The 2018 Farm Bill expires at the end of September 2023. The 2023 Farm Bill is in the works with input from many stakeholders. The 2023 Farm Bill is a sweeping piece of legislation that covers numerous topics other than hemp and CBD.
Most of the 2023 Farm Bill will regulate programs such as crop insurance, food access for low-income families, beginning farmer training, and support for sustainable farming practices.
How Did CBD Get Into the 2023 Farm Bill?
The 2018 Farm Bill was used to legalize hemp farming and products such as CBD, fiber, and seeds derived from hemp. By 2018, CBD products were becoming popular with consumers.
Still, they were illegal due to the wording of the Controlled Substance Act, which made any derivative from the Cannabis sativa plant illegal and equivalent to possession of marijuana in the eyes of the federal government. Even farming hemp for fiber or hemp seed was prohibited.
Public outcry and pressure from the farm lobbies triggered the inclusion of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill that removed hemp and hemp products from the DEA list of Scheduled substances. (except for Delta 9 THC). The bill defines the difference between hemp and marijuana based on the Delta 9 THC concentration found in the flower (bud) of Cannabis sativa varieties.
Cannabis varieties with more than 0.3% Delta 9 THC are considered marijuana.
Cannabis sativa varieties with less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis are classified as hemp.
Since the Farm Bill must be renewed every 5 years, the House and Senate are now considering what changes need to be made concerning hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, CBN, and CBG. Meaning the 2018 Farm Bill is up for renewal in 2023, and the hemp-related topics that will be introduced and debated may significantly impact CBD consumers and the cannabinoid market as we know it.
Why the FDA is not Regulating CBD at this Time
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes CBD does not fit the current regulatory framework for food or supplements. The FDA has stated that there is a need to regulate CBD and expressed a “willingness to work with Congress to find a new way forward.” This brings us full circle to the desire of many to implement changes in the 2023 Farm Bill that will require the FDA to develop the necessary framework and regulate CBD. See the FDA statement on CBD regulation here.
2023 Farm Bill and Delta 8 THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid responsible for the “High” experienced when marijuana is smoked. As we stated above, the THC concentration of Cannabis sativa determines if the plant is classified as hemp or marijuana.
All hemp plants contain some Delta 9 THC but must be less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC. It is pretty straightforward. However, the issue has become complicated with the emergence of compounds like Delta 8 and Delta 10 THC.
2023 Farm Bill May Increase THC Limits
Many hemp farmers, processors, and manufacturers are lobbying for an increase in the THC limit from 0.3% to 1%. It is unclear at this point if an increase would only be in effect for the plant material or if it would extend to consumer products. Farmers argue that the current regulation is too strict and often results in crops being destroyed and potential legal action against the farmer if THC testing determines a THC concentration over 0.3%.
2023 Farm Bill Conclusion:
The 2023 Farm Bill, a comprehensive piece of legislation, won’t be finalized this year. While CBD issues are just a small fraction of this bill, the key focus is on establishing a regulatory framework for FDA oversight of CBD as supplements or similar products. This framework would include manufacturer licensing, product registration, label requirements, contamination prevention, potency limits, minimum age restrictions, child-resistant packaging, and CBD standards for pet products. These measures aim to protect consumers from unscrupulous actors in the CBD industry. Given that over 1/3rd of the population consumes CBD products in 2023, prioritizing FDA action for consumer safety is essential.
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