Congress included a variety of hemp and CBD provisions in reports attached to appropriations legislation that was signed into law by President Trump on Friday.
Although more sweeping provisions that passed the House—such as measures shielding all state and tribal cannabis programs from federal interference and protecting banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses—were omitted from the Fiscal Year 2020 spending legislation following the merging of the two chambers’ versions, the report language that came out of the bicameral negotiations reflects growing bipartisan interest in researching cannabis and ensuring that hemp legalization is effectively implemented.
One provision directs the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to “provide a brief report on the barriers to research that result from the classification of drugs and compounds as Schedule I substances” under federal law within 120 days. There’s widespread recognition, including from the head of NIDA, that the Schedule I status of marijuana has inhibited studies into the plant’s effects.
Another passage encourages the National Institutes of Health to “consider additional investment in studying the medicinal effects and toxicology of cannabidiol and cannabigerol.”
The negotiators also agreed that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality should issue at least $1 million in grants to research whether CBD and kratom can serve as alternatives to opioids.
“Little research has been done to date on natural products that are used by many to treat pain in place of opioids. These natural plants and substances include kratom and cannabidiol,” the provision says. “The agreement recommends no less than $1,000,000 for this research and directs AHRQ to make center-based grants. Such research should lead to clinical trials in geographic regions which are among the hardest hit by the opioid crisis.”
Additionally, the report allocates $2 million for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) efforts to develop regulations for hemp-derived CBD.
It’s meant to be used for the “research, policy evaluation, market surveillance, issuance of an enforcement discretion policy, and appropriate regulatory activities with respect to products under the jurisdiction of the FDA which contain CBD and meet the definition of hemp,” lawmakers said.
FDA is required to submit a report within 60 days “regarding the agency’s progress toward obtaining and analyzing data to help determine a policy of enforcement discretion and the process in which CBD meeting the definition of hemp will be evaluated for use in products.”
Congress is also directing FDA to “perform a sampling study of the current CBD marketplace to determine the extent to which products are mislabeled or adulterated” and report back to lawmakers within 180 days.
Separately, lawmakers set aside nearly $16.5 million in funding to support the implementation of a domestic hemp program under the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the crop and its derivatives.
“This funding will ensure hemp farmers have certainty heading into the next planting season,” an explanatory document says.
Another $1 million was earmarked for revenue protection insurance for hemp.
“Hemp producers across the country are looking to Kentucky for our expertise and leadership with this exciting crop, and I’m committed to helping our farmers, processors and manufacturers take full advantage of hemp’s potential,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a press release. “These federal resources will help us continue our progress to ensuring hemp is treated just like every other legal commodity.”
“As Kentucky farmers prepare for the 2020 growing season, I’ll continue advancing their priorities as Senate Majority Leader so they have the tools needed,” he said.
McConnell took credit for a series of other provisions included in the legislation, such as $2 million for hemp research, a measure directing the Farm Credit Administration to provide services for hemp businesses, a ban on the federal government blocking the production or sale of the crop, support for competitive U.S. Department of Agriculture grants for hemp projects and a provision meant to promote technology that would help law enforcement distinguish between hemp and marijuana.
Written By: Kyle Jaeger