CBD News Roundup: Congress Wants to Expand Research on Marijuana, CBD

United States Capitol

Here are this week’s biggest CBD news stories:

  • Senators introduce bill expanding medical research on marijuana and CBD to Congress
  • New market report shows CBD sales in the legal cannabis market are outpacing THC sales
  • Bill filed in Massachusetts to legalize CBD-infused foods and beverages
  • USDA head is concerned farmers will grow too much hemp

Table of Contents

  1. Senators Introduce Bill Expanding Research on Marijuana, CBD
  2. Market Report: CBD in Legal Cannabis Market Outpacing THC
  3. Bill Filed in Massachusetts to Legalize CBD-Infused Foods
  4. Head of USDA Afraid Farmers Will Grow Too Much Hemp

Senators Introduce Bill Expanding Research on Marijuana, CBD

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) have introduced a bill that will expand medical research on marijuana and CBD if passed.

The senators indicated that the motivation behind the law is to provide parents with another avenue to help their children with epilepsy and other difficult-to-treat conditions.

“The parents of children with severe epilepsy and other conditions are interested in cannabidiol to try to ease their children’s symptoms. I understand their interest. Research is necessary to determine the potential medical value of cannabidiol, and wherever possible, the government should help facilitate the scientific research needed to give these parents the answers they need,” Grassley said in a new release.

The bill also could streamline the process for new cannabis-based medications to become available.

Currently, Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved treatment in existence.

“Many parents have had success treating their children with CBD oil, particularly for intractable epilepsy, but there are still too many unknowns when it comes to the medical use of marijuana and its compounds. Current regulations make medical marijuana research difficult and stifles the development of new treatments. Our combined bill streamlines the research process and paves the way for marijuana-derived medications that are FDA-approved to keep consumers safe,” Feinstein said.

Research on marijuana is difficult to conduct since the plant is federally illegal as a Schedule I controlled substance, a classification that prohibits research.

“The medical community agrees that we need more research to learn about marijuana’s potential health benefits, but our federal laws today are standing in the way of that inquiry. Our bill will remove excessive barriers that make it difficult for researchers to study the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, and hopefully, give patients more treatment options,” Schatz said.

The federal government has played a part in facilitating research in the past.

Earlier this year, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health granted portions of $1.5 million to four recipients for research into “minor cannabinoids” and terpenes.

Market Report: CBD in Legal Cannabis Market Outpacing THC

A new market report by Headset shows that CBD sales are outpacing THC sales in the legal cannabis market with data spanning from 2015 to May 2019.

“While hemp-derived CBD has been available almost nationwide for awhile, it only recently hit traditional retail outlets. More consumer familiarity with the compound means more consumers who are comfortable with the idea of cannabis, and clearly some of CBD’s new mainstream audience is making its way into a dispensary,” reads the report.

The report reveals that topicals had the highest sales of non-inhalable CBD products.

Sales of CBD topicals have grown nearly 60 percent while sales of THC topicals have only increased 10 percent.

The most popular CBD edibles included honey and sweeteners, mints, and gummies.

According to the report, nearly 50 percent of dollars spent on cannabis (both CBD and THC) edibles were for gummies.

While the popularity of CBD has grown exponentially, the researchers say they “don’t think it’s hit a plateau.”

Bill Filed in Massachusetts to Legalize CBD-Infused Foods

A bill was filed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives that would legalize CBD-infused foods and beverages.

Massachusetts state regulators banned the sale of CBD foods on June 21, frustrating farmers since CBD is the most lucrative aspect of growing hemp.

Regulators stated that their policy followed current FDA guidelines on hemp-derived CBD products.

The new legislation would overturn this policy and allow the sale of CBD food products and dietary supplements.

“A number of farmers come to me directly and say we want to diversify our crops and this is a very valuable way of doing it,” said State Senator Adam Hines. “And so this is in many ways getting the bureaucracy out of the way and allowing something that’s legal to move forward.”

Massachusetts legalized the cultivation of hemp when it made recreational marijuana legal in 2016.

Under current state law, Massachusetts bans hemp-derived CBD while it allows marijuana-derived CBD.

The head of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is concerned that farmers will grow too much hemp once regulations around the plant have been implemented.

“But farmers are so productive, I’m concerned they may overproduce like they do a lot of things in that way and the price may go down,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who is the head of the USDA, in an interview with WLKY-TV.

According to a 2018 report from Vote Hemp, 78,176 acres of hemp were grown in 2018.

That’s an increase of over 50,000 acres from 2017 (25,713 acres).

In 2019, that total is again expected to increase significantly.

Senator Mitch McConnell personally took Perdue on a tour of hemp farms in Kentucky earlier this week, which comes shortly after the USDA announced it was planning to release its interim ruling on the plant in August.

Regulations for hemp are intended to be ready for the 2020 growing season.