Ag Policy Blog

NASDA Wants FDA to Move Quickly on Hemp Oversight

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Hemp grown in Colorado. With the prospects of a growing industry, state regulators are asking FDA to pick up the pace and get some federal regulations completed dealing with issues around cannibidiol oil products. (image courtesy of the Colorado Department of Agriculture)

The National Association of State Agriculture Directors (NASDA) has written the Food and Drug Administration "to expeditiously create a clear regulatory framework for hemp products."

NASDA stated the industry needs a regulatory system all of the states can follow. NASDA was commenting on an FDA public hearing and submission of comments about "the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling and sale" of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived products.

Cannabidiol oil (CBD) is a growing market with at least one recent analysis projecting CBD sales could go above $20 billion by 2024 for industries including cosmetics, health products, food, beverages, pet products, skin care and pharmaceuticals.

Citing the extremely high interest in the hemp industry, NASDA pointed out hemp will only become economically viable if there is a well-defined framework for products from hemp. "Consistency will be a key factor for the development of a market for this emerging industry," NASDA stated. With that, NASDA wants FDA to provide clarity and certainty.

If FDA doesn't draft a regulatory regime then states will be required to develop regulations for products, which would create a patchwork, NASDA said.

Regarding the health claims and safety of CBD products, NASDA wrote that its members have received numerous questions around issues such as age restrictions and how some products may interact with pharmaceuticals. "It seems like there is a lack of information around those issues in the marketplace, so NASDA encourage FDA to work with manufactures to gather the data, and potential create funds for more research in this space."

NASDA also stated there is confusion about terms such as hemp oil, CBD, extract, etc. Each of these terms are being used with no clarity, NASDA stated.

NASDA's full comments can be found at…

Hemp production was also a focus at the BIO World Congress in Des Moines where concerns were raised about the need for FDA to get the regulatory rules correct. Speakers also indicated USDA would likely have to wait until 2020 to start approving state plans for oversight of hemp production.

The concerns over the risks of testing with levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in hemp. Under the farm bill, THC must test under .3% in dry weight levels. John McKay, a founder of New West Genetics, said it was possible through breeding and gene editing to create zero THC hemp varieties that would greatly

"Even for grain, to know the crop that it came from never contained THC is quite attractive to the ingredient and consumer product companies," McKay said.

Trey Riddle, founder and CEO of the Kentucky-based Sunstrand LLC, discussed the rate of return growing hemp for fiber. He compared the revenue to roughly a farm operation growing 175 bushels of corn at $5 a bushel. Agronomic wise, Riddle said the biggest challenges right now for fiber hemp are weeds and the genetics coming largely from Canada right now aren't quite optimal for some other growing environments.

While CBD remains the dominate use for hemp right now, Riddle also pointed out companies such as Wrangler and Patagonia want to start producing clothing out of U.S. hemp fiber.

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