September 29, 2021

Press Coverage Provides Sneak Peak Into U.S. Hemp Roundtable Virtual Fly-In 

Press Coverage Provides Sneak Peak Into U.S. Hemp Roundtable Virtual Fly-In

Yesterday’s Fall Members Meeting of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable made a lot of national news noise – and it’s no wonder, given the all-star lineup that joined the Roundtable in its virtual DC “fly-in.” The Roundtable Board met with a dozen FDA officials that serve on the agency’s Cannabis Product Council. The membership subsequently met with the USDA’s new Hemp Work Group, and White House officials that serve the President on agriculture and drug control policy.

The real news, however, was generated by the seven Members of Congress (including two U.S. Senators) who joined the group in a spirited, interactive discussion on hemp public policy. The national media took notice of some of the highlights:

  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) gave a sneak peak into her soon-to-be-released Hemp Advancement Act, a bill that she’s been working closely on with the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, to address some of the outstanding issues with the 2018 Farm Bill;
  • Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Andy Barr (R-KY) all opined on the progress of the SAFE Banking Act legislation that they’ve been industriously working on;
  • Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) discussed the progress of HR 841, their legislation that would stop the current FDA stalemate and regulate CBD now.

Check out some excerpts from press coverage of the event —

PoliticoPro — Morning Cannabis (Hemp Watch)

By Mona Zhang, Natalie Fertig and Paul Demko

NEW HEMP BILL COMING TO CONGRESS — Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) will introduce a hemp bill in the coming weeks and previewed her new legislation to members of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable on Tuesday.

Among the provisions in her Hemp Advancement Act:

THC potency and testing: The bill would raise the THC limit in both hemp crops and hemp extract during the production process. Hemp extracts often exceed 0.3 percent THC during processing, even if the final product is below the federal limit. Many producers expressed concerns that the DEA’s interim final rule would criminalize the processing of hemp extracts.

The bill would also get rid of the USDA’s requirement that only DEA laboratories can test hemp products. “There are currently zero DEA registered labs in my home state and [only] one in New England,” Pingree said.

Criminal justice: Pingree’s bill would also remove a ban on those with felony drug convictions from receiving hemp licenses, she said. “I was personally shocked that there was a prohibition with someone with a felony drug charge,” she said, criticizing how hemp policy has gotten tied up with “antiquated drug laws.”

Meanwhile, there are two other hemp regulation bills before Congress that aim to create FDA regulations for the hemp industry. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced a bill in February that would regulate CBD products (D-Ore.) introduced a similar bill in May that would regulate CBD like dietary supplements and food additives.

Schrader said that his bill aims to provide some regulatory certainty and limit liability for producers, on top of protecting consumers. He believes using the dietary supplement pathway through the FDA is the “least intrusive, least bureaucratic framework.”

Wyden expressed frustration at the lack of regulatory action by the FDA, arguing that it hurts consumer safety and creates economic uncertainty for hemp farmers.

“We have said they’re not illicit substances,” said Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, of CBD products. “Yet the FDA, for all practical purposes, continues to argue the other way.”

Next steps: The first stop for Schrader’s bill is the Energy & Commerce Committee, which is expected to take up the bill this fall. But Schrader and co-sponsor Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) have their eyes on attaching the language to must-pass legislation like one of the December appropriations bills or even a continuing resolution.

“I think this one would not raise a lot of objections,” Schrader said, citing broad bipartisan support.

Marijuana Moment — House And Senate Marijuana Banking Sponsors Discuss Path Ahead While Legalization Debate Looms

By Kyle Jaeger

House and Senate sponsors of legislation to protect financial institutions that service state-legal cannabis businesses discussed the strategy moving forward during a virtual event hosted by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable on Tuesday. Overall, there was recognition that Senate leadership might face obstacles in pushing for a broad reform package they are preparing as incremental banking legislation advances.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), sponsor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, stressed that “the cannabis industry generates a lot of cash, and we want to get that cash really off the streets because it attracts crime—murders, robberies, assault and batteries [as well as] white collar crimes of skimming and fraud generally.”

He made similar comments in an interview with Marijuana Moment last week.

However, the congressman recognized that “there’s been some hesitation on some Democrats’ part in the Senate, wanting to do a much bigger piece of legislation that decriminalizes, deschedules, has criminal justice reform components, a taxation component to it.”

“I’m all for that,” Perlmutter said. “But, quite frankly, the Senate hasn’t taken any action with respect to cannabis since 1971.”

The congressman said flatly that he doesn’t believe legislation that’s being crafted by Senate leadership to legalize marijuana has the votes to pass at this point. And in the interim, advancing cannabis banking reform could serve a public safety interest while helping to stabilize industries that continue to evolve across the country.

One of the senators pushing to advance comprehensive legalization is Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR). He also spoke at Tuesday’s Hemp Roundtable event and touted the work he’s been able to accomplish alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to put forward broad reform while still supporting legislation to enact a policy change on cannabis banking.

“Let’s just make sure that this conversation is in the ‘to be continued’ department because these issues are hugely important to agriculture, are hugely important to rural communities, and I think we’re on the right side of history and we’ve just got to keep prosecuting the case for policies that keep up with the times,” Wyden told the hemp stakeholders at Tuesday’s meeting.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the chief sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act in his chamber, also discussed next steps for marijuana reform this Congress. With respect to banking, he said that he hoped to see the Senate ultimately accept a provision to House-passed defense spending legislation to protect banks that work with state-legal cannabis businesses.

“I’m hoping we can have similar success in the Senate,” he said, referring to the House’s move to attach cannabis banking to the National Defense Authorization Act. “This is a moment. The House has acted once again to push for this to be successfully passed in the counterpart in the Senate, or to get it done in conference with the House language.”

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Let’s Talk Hemp — U.S. Hemp Roundtable Hosts Private Virtual Fly-In With Members of Congress

By Elaine Lipson

Let’s Talk Hemp attended select sessions via an exclusive press invitation. Discussion centered around H.R. 1996, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which has passed the house and is now amended into the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act; H.R. 841, The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2021, which aims to ensure that non-intoxicating hemp ingredients could be regulated as and lawfully marketed as dietary supplements; and S.1698, The Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act, establishing a legal and regulatory pathway for the sale of hemp-derived extract products as dietary supplements and food and beverage additives.

Participants emphasized that there is bipartisan support for legislation that helps build consumer confidence in and regulatory/market support for non-intoxicating hemp products. “This is a meat and potatoes issue that cuts through all the ideological fault lines we have in Congress,” said Rep. Schrader. Obstacles include a packed legislative schedule of other priorities, however, as well as legislators who still perceive hemp as a marijuana and recreational drug issue and those who are delaying support for smaller bills in hopes of a single broader, more encompassing bill.

Sen. Merkley of Oregon noted that without a clear path to a broader bill, it doesn’t make sense to leave bad situations in place, especially with regard to farmers and producers who have experienced systemic injustices as farmers and entrepreneurs. Sen. Wyden stressed that he and colleagues including Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) would continue to push hard for comprehensive cannabis legalization, saying he would “keep prosecuting the case for policies that keep up with the times.”

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Bristol Herald Courier (VA) — Griffith predicts hemp, CBD legislation will find support

By David McGee

Federal legislation that would expand the consumer market for hemp and CBD products is expected to have widespread support once it moves forward in Congress, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith said Tuesday.

Griffith, a Republican from Virginia’s 9th District, was among a dozen speakers Tuesday during the U.S. Hemp Roundtable Zoom conference, including federal lawmakers and speakers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the White House. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable is that industry’s national advocacy organization.

Griffith is a co-sponsor of HR 841, a bill to make hemp, cannabidiol — also known as CBD — derived from hemp, or any other ingredient derived from hemp “lawful for use under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act as a dietary ingredient in a dietary supplement and for other purposes.”

Hemp is legally defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3% or less THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol  the psychoactive component found in both hemp and marijuana plants. Marijuana is a cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3% THC.

“I think with so many states legalizing smoking marijuana, the resistance to using hemp products has greatly eroded,” Griffith said.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, can be derived from both hemp and marijuana plants. The FDA’s position is that CBD products may not be sold as dietary supplements. If passed, the supplements would also have to meet other health guidelines.

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