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Pingree, House Agriculture Chairman Peterson Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Support Hemp Farmers, CBD Businesses

Washington, January 14, 2020

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today joined House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota), as well as Congressmen James Comer (R-Kentucky) and Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), in introducing bipartisan legislation that will support hemp farmers and provide a regulatory pathway for products containing hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). The bill, H.R. 5587, would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the regulatory flexibility to allow CBD to be marketed in dietary supplements. The bill would also direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to complete a study on the market and regulatory barriers for farmers to participate in USDA’s domestic hemp production program. 

“Despite legalization of hemp in the last Farm Bill, there’s been a lack of clarity around hemp and hemp-derived CBD. Businesses have suffered due to murky regulations on banking, insurance, marketing, and generally operating above ground,” said Pingree. “With this bill, we’re providing a pathway forward for hemp farmers by allowing hemp-derived CBD products to be marketed like any other dietary supplement. I’m proud to support legislation that moves us towards a legalized hemp economy.”

Pingree has supported Maine’s hemp farmers and hemp-derived CBD businesses, which have been at the mercy of unclear federal regulations. She and Congressman Jared Golden (D-Maine) wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in April and October 2019, asking for clarity around federal hemp rules. In October 2019, USDA published an interim final rule establishing the domestic hemp production program.

Pingree has also pushed FDA to establish a regulatory pathway for hemp-derived CBD products, most recently in a bipartisan letter with Congressman James Comer (R-Kentucky) in September 2019. She cosponsored and supported the SAFE Banking Act, which would permit marijuana- and hemp-related businesses in legalization states access to federally-insured financial institutions. Pingree spoke in support of the SAFE Banking Act before its bipartisan passage in September 2019.

Pingree recently hosted a roundtable for hemp growers and USDA in Whitefield, Maine, in light of developments at Sheepscot Farm that led hemp growers Ben and Taryn Marcus to be dropped by their insurance company and bank. The USDA study required by H.R. 5587 would look in to numerous concerns that were discussed at the roundtable, including the costs of operating a hemp testing laboratory that is approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the feasibility of farmer compliance with sampling timetables, and the cost of destruction of hemp crops that are found to be in excess of the 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) limit.

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