Draft Legislation Aims to Decriminalize Cannabis, Set Safe Level of CBD Consumption

Washington, D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) have released a discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. As explained in a press release, this proposed legislation would “help put an end to the unfair targeting and treatment of communities of color by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and empowering states to implement their own cannabis laws.”

Key points outlined in the discussion draft :

  • As of July 2021, 18 states have legalized adult-use cannabis, reaching over 40% of Americans.
  • 91% of Americans believe cannabis should be legal for either adult or medical use.
  • The cannabis industry employs over 320,000 workers and generated over $17.5 billion in sales in 2020 (32% growth in 2020).
  • By 2025, the cannabis industry could have an estimated nearly $45.9 billion in
    annual sales.
  • Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level and the burden of prohibition falls disproportionately on Black and brown Americans: Black people are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis use than white people, despite even cannabis use across demographics.
  • People of color make up less than one-fifth of cannabis business owners and managers.

Within this broader bill, there is a provision focused on CBD. The Natural Products Association (NPA) shared news of provision, which directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set a safe level of consumption for cannabidiol (CBD) products. Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO of NPA, has said setting a safe level of daily exposure is “the number one issue” when it comes to regulating CBD products.

“Setting a safe level of consumption for CBD products is long overdue, but it remains the best path forward for consumers and the industry,” said Dr. Fabricant in a press release on the topic. “Unlike other federal bills, this one would do what NPA alone has long called for: It would direct FDA to expedite a rule that sets an upper limit for daily consumption. Setting this limit provides clarity for CBD innovators, and also creates a clear path to the well-regulated CBD marketplace that consumers deserve. While we still believe dietary supplements and foods should be under one piece of legislation, this is a positive development for consumers who use these products every day, and we look forward to working with Congress and the FDA to ensure that we have clear federal guidelines and safety standards for CBD products.”

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NPA has been urging the FDA to regulate CBD since 2017, including crafting legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that provides resources so the FDA can perform a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) and set a safe level of CBD for consumers to use each day. The process, according to the press release, would follow the same precedent as red yeast rice, which allows a natural product to contain a level of a drug ingredient that the FDA has determined to be safe. With the exception of Epidiolex, NPA stressed, all CBD products in the U.S. are considered illegal by the federal government.