Senate Wants FDA to Act Now on Hemp CBD Rules; Move Could Open More Bank Doors to CBD Merchants

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue temporary guidance on the sale of hemp-derived CBD products and to speed-up work on final regulations. And that means more financial institutions could soon be willing to offer payment processing and other financial services needs to merchants

Senator McConnell (D-KY) helped push provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill that deleted hemp (a cannabis plant with minimal THC content) from the list of Schedule 1 drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act. But the FDA, which has regulatory and enforcement authority for drugs, biological products and cosmetics, has been dragging its feet on approving hemp-derived CBD products. Now the Senator has added language to a Congressional spending bill that would require the FDA to issue an “enforcement discretion policy, and appropriate regulatory activities” regarding hemp within 3 months. The FDA is slated to receive $2 million in funding to support regulatory activities around hemp-derived CBD products.

As leader of the majority party in the Senate, Sen. McConnell’s legislative preferences hold sway in that chamber of Congress.

A draft of the proposed legislation was released this week by the US Hemp Roundtable, a coalition of hemp companies that has been working closely with Sen. McConnell on the legislative language. The legislation would require the FDA to file a report with Congress within 90 days outlining its efforts to develop an enforcement discretion policy on hemp CBD, and to issue a formal policy within 120 days. That enforcement discretion policy would remain in effect until formal regulations are developed, according to the bill. And going forward, the agency will need to implement procedures for CBD manufacturers to share safety information regarding CBD products, according to the draft legislation.

“In the short run, the McConnell language would help lift the current regulatory cloud that’s been discouraging financial institutions to work with CBD companies, and that’s encouraged some local government officials to suggest that CBD is illegal in their state,” the Hemp Roundtable said in a statement. “In the long run, it would help set forward a fair and expeditious path for hemp CBD products to be formally recognized as safe and legal as a matter of federal law.”