Most consumable hemp-derived cannabinoid products would be effectively banned under a bill that has advanced through a GOP-controlled House committee—though the panel did add clarifying language to an attached report that appears to push federal officials to take steps toward creating a framework to “adequately regulate”—rather than prohibit—certain hemp derivatives.

The House Appropriations Committee approved a 2025 spending bill covering Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (Ag/FDA) on Wednesday, with a controversial section that would prohibit cannabinoid products such as delta-8 THC and CBD containing any “quantifiable” amount of THC.

Hemp industry stakeholders have rallied against the proposal, which was included in the base bill from the relevant subcommittee last month. It’s virtually identical to a provision of the 2024 Farm Bill that was attached by a separate committee in May via an amendment from Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL).

If either measure is enacted into law, cannabinoids that are “synthesized or manufactured outside of the plant” would no longer meet the definition of legal hemp.

The proposed ban faced sizable pushback from the hemp industry, though certain key marijuana businesses have joined prohibitionists in supporting the proposed policy change.

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) told colleagues on Wednesday that he has heard concerns from his constituents about the provision, saying he has upwards of 100 licensed hemp farms in his district.

“In fact, the majority of members on this committee have hemp licensed producers in your districts. These farmers are concerned that language included in the underlying bill, while well intended, makes several arbitrary and industry-crushing changes that would put them out of business,” he said. “They’re concerned that the language also preempts individual states who have engaged their respective industries to properly regulate hemp derived products.”

“I can tell you from experience that maintaining a farm is hard enough nowadays, and we should support all agricultural producers, particularly those who rely upon a redeveloping agricultural market such as hemp,” the congressman said, adding that he appreciates the inclusion of new clarifying report language.

A manager’s amendment from Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), chairman of the subcommittee that handled the bill, added a report provision calling on FDA to look into the health and safety effects of cannabinoid products, encouraging the agency to “assert a stronger commitment to identifying lawful federal regulatory parameters” such as labeling, testing and age limits.

“Intoxicating Cannabinoids. The Committee directs FDA to evaluate the public health and safety implications of ingestible, inhalable, or topical products on the market that contain intoxicating cannabinoids. The Committee encourages FDA to assert a stronger commitment to identifying lawful federal regulatory parameters that will protect the public health, such as labeling requirements on all hemp-derived products; testing procedures and standards to ensure product compliance and adverse event reporting; packaging requirements to prevent marketing to minors; and mandatory age limits for these products at the point of purchase. FDA should provide a briefing to the committee within 180 days of enactment of this Act on the authorities needed to adequately regulate cannabinoid hemp products, including authorities to support consumer safety.”

“We’ll continue working on this and get the bad actors out, the ones who are not…converting some of that to delta-8, which is a dangerous substance,” Harris said. “It’s a psychoactive substance, so we’ll continue to work on that. We do not want to harm the people who are the good actors, and most of them are the good actors.”

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable, an industry organization, said it disagrees with Harris’s viewpoint on delta-8 and “will continue to fight for the regulation, not prohibition of all hemp products.”

But the group added that “it is encouraging to hear from him that he believes that most players in the hemp space are good actors,” it said. “The accompanying report language further makes evident that Congress wants FDA to adequately regulate, not ban any hemp products, even those that are potentially impairing.”

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), ranking member of the relevant subcommittee, argued during Wednesday’s markup that “the importance of hemp is growing every day in this country,” saying his region of Northeastern Pennsylvania is becoming a “hemp hub.”

“Nothing is stronger than hemp that you can grow. Nothing will uptake heavy metals out of soil to clean up brownfields like hemp. Nothing will store carbon, pound for pound like hemp,” he said. “And hemp ends up being a wonderful way to shore up concrete you probably heard of hempcrete. Hemp can be used in building materials.”

“It’s a terrific product, and it’s time for us to stop being afraid of it—because there are better things to smoke,” the congressman quipped.

Speaking of marijuana, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) criticized separate report language directing federal health officials to send Congress a report explaining its marijuana rescheduling decision.

“This bill also aims to block much needed access to cannabis, and also multiple report language provisions aimed at impeding efforts around moving marijuana to Schedule I, the most stringent drug classification of the Controlled Substances Act, to Schedule III in recognition of the plant’s medical value,” she said.

“According to HHS, though cannabis use is associated with fewer adverse outcomes than alcohol, marijuana remains in the most restrictive schedule, creating severe penalties for cannabis users and businesses—including for criminal records, immigration status, employment, taxation, healthcare, public housing, social services and more,” the congresswoman said. “As long as marijuana remains scheduled, our communities will face severe penalties for something that is now legal in 30 states.”

“As co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I urge this committee to not tie the hands of FDA as they take their first step to remove marijuana from Schedule I and begin addressing more than 50 years of failed, racially discriminatory marijuana policy,” Lee said.

When it comes to the potential hemp product ban, many observers expect that the timeline for advancing the Farm Bill will be pushed back until next year, however, so the provision’s inclusion in a must-pass spending bill raises the stakes for hemp industry advocates—though it remains to be seen what approach the Senate will take to the issue in its version of the legislation.

Supporters of the ban have described the language as a fix to a “loophole” that was created under the 2018 Farm Bill that federally legalized hemp.

While they’ve focused on the need to address public safety concerns related to unregulated “intoxicating” cannabinoid products such as delta-8 THC, some hemp industry advocates say the effect of the proposed language could be a ban on virtually all non-intoxicating CBD products as well, as most on the market contain at least trace levels of THC, consistent with the Farm Bill definition of hemp that allows for up to 0.3 percent THC by dry weight.

Hemp industry stakeholders have recognized that there’s a need to address legitimate concerns related to the unregulated market that’s proliferated since hemp was federally legalized, but the solution they’ve put forward is to enact strategic regulations to ensure product safety and prevent youth access.

A report attached to the Ag/FDA spending bill also discusses the committee’s worries about unregulated cannabis products, including those for which a business is making unsanctioned claims about therapeutic potential. It wants FDA to “continue and increase” efforts to take enforcement actions against bad actors in the hemp space.

“It is also imperative that FDA continue to exercise its existing authorities to preserve incentives to invest in robust clinical study of cannabis so its therapeutic value can be better understood,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Farm Bill that advanced through the House Agriculture Committee in May also contains provisions that would reduce regulatory barriers for certain hemp farmers and scale-back a ban on industry participation by people with prior drug felony convictions.

Specifically, it would make it so the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), states and tribal entities could choose to eliminate a policy that prevents people with felony drug convictions in the past 10 years from being licensed to produce industrial hemp.

However, advocates had hoped to see more expansive language, such as what was described in Senate Democrats’ recent summary of their forthcoming Farm Bill draft. Under that plan, there would be a mandate to eliminate the ban, rather than simply authorizing it, and it would cover all hemp producers, not just those growing it for non-extraction purposes.

Lawmakers and stakeholders have also been eyeing a number of other proposals that could be incorporated into the Farm Bill—and which could come up as proposed amendments as the proposal moves through the legislative process—including measures to free up hemp businesses to legally market products like CBD as dietary supplements or in the food supply.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

In the background, the hemp market started to rebound in 2023 after suffering significant losses the prior year, the latest annual industry report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that was released in April found.

The data is the result of a survey that USDA mailed to thousands of hemp farmers across the U.S. in January. The first version of the department’s hemp report was released in early 2022, setting a “benchmark” to compare to as the industry matures.

Bipartisan lawmakers and industry stakeholders have sharply criticized FDA for declining to enact regulations for hemp-derived CBD, which they say is largely responsible for the economic stagnation.

To that end, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf testified before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee in April, where he faced questions about the agency’s position that it needed additional congressional authorization to regulate the non-intoxicating cannabinoid.

USDA is also reportedly revoking hemp licenses for farmers who are simultaneously growing marijuana under state-approved programs, underscoring yet another policy conflict stemming from the ongoing federal prohibition of some forms of the cannabis plant.

For the time being, the hemp industry continues to face unique regulatory hurdles that stakeholders blame for the crop’s value plummeting in the short years since its legalization. Despite the economic conditions, however, a recent report found that the hemp market in 2022 was larger than all state marijuana markets, and it roughly equaled sales for craft beer nationally.

Meanwhile, internally at USDA, food safety workers are being encouraged to exercise caution and avoid cannabis products, including federally legal CBD, as the agency observes an “uptick” in positive THC tests amid “confusion” as more states enact legalization.

GOP Congressional Panel Directs Biden Admin To Explain Marijuana Rescheduling Decision, Saying It’s ‘Concerned’ About ‘Deviations’

Photo courtesy of Kimzy Nanney.

The post GOP-Led Congressional Committee Approves Bill To Ban Most Consumable Hemp Products Such As Delta-8 THC appeared first on Marijuana Moment.

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