Call it a diamond in the rough, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) might be the most powerful proponent of CBD legalization in the United States. And it actually makes sense: McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, suffering from exponential loss in tobacco industry sales, needs an agricultural revitalization.
McConnell sees the CBD debate for what it is. The facts are:
- The worldwide hemp industry was worth an estimated $820 million in 2016.
- The worldwide hemp industry was worth an estimated $3 billion in 2018.
- Some economic analysts predict that number will rise to $20 billion in just the next couple years.
By consistently championing the hemp legalization debate, McConnell is making one thing clear to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): the United States should not be left behind by the CBD industry – in fact, the U.S. should lead the CBD industry.
The FDA is vital to the CBD industry because they currently do not regulate the manufacturing or sale of CBD. This means that it is illegal to sell CBD products as foodstuffs, dietary supplements, or advertise its nutritional benefits even though numerous independent reports already corroborate its potential in a variety of wellness-related fields.
That isn’t good enough for Mitch McConnell. Nor is it good enough for Americans, the agricultural industry or consumers alike. And McConnell responded in stride.
After consulting with the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a coalition of hemp companies pushing for universal legalization of hemp and CBD products, McConnell introduced additions to the Senate Agricultural Appropriations bill. These additions would require the FDA to issue formal enforcement discretion on the sale of hemp-derived CBD products.
What does this mean?
- Within 90 days of receiving McConnell’s bill, the FDA will provide Congress with a report outlining their efforts to develop an enforcement policy on hemp-derived CBD products.
- Within 120 days, the FDA will issue its formal enforcement discretion policy on hemp-derived CBD.
- The FDA will keep this enforcement discretion policy in effect until the agency has implemented its final regulatory process.
- Going forward, the FDA will ensure that CBD manufacturers will be able to share safety data through existing FDA notification procedures in order to be fully compliant with federal law and safety regulations.
The additions will be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and the full Senate Appropriations Committee this week before being sent to the FDA. After the FDA receives the report, it will have both short and long-term implications for the future of CBD.
In the short-term, McConnell’s report should help lift the regulatory cloud that’s been hovering above CBD manufacturers and distributors for years. The lack of federal regulations has since discouraged financial institutions from working with CBD companies and allowed local government officials to suggest that CBD is still illegal in their states. No more.
In the long-term, this report will help set forth a fair and expeditious path for hemp-derived CBD legalization. CBD products will be recognized by the federal government as a legitimate commodity, both legal and safe by virtue of federal law.
Furthermore, McConnell’s additions urge the FDA to consider existing CBD research studies, marking a path for increased research on the safety, effects, and potential benefits of the compound. Not only will McConnell’s bill help to legalize CBD universally, it will open the gates of knowledge on CBD research for years to come.
For CBD, this is huge. Mitch McConnell could be the last piece in the puzzle needed to complete the CBD legalization and regulatory process. For years, federal government officials had shied away from comprehensive legalization, claiming a need for further research and understanding before making any regulatory declarations.
The federal government also shot itself in the foot, however, with the approval of Epidiolex in 2018 as a prescription medication. Epidiolex contains only one active ingredient: CBD. It’s prescribed to patients suffering from one of two forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.
By legalizing and regulating a CBD-based prescription medication, the federal government unintentionally publicized that CBD does, in fact, possess health benefits. And it wasn’t long after the approval of Epidiolex that industrial hemp-derived products – including CBD – were federally legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill.
We’ve achieved legalization. Now, Mitch McConnell has invited the FDA to the table, declaring it’s time to regulate CBD and achieve full legalization. Not only is this good for McConnell’s home state of Kentucky – it’s good for farmers, manufacturers and consumers alike.