Two crops common to Southern Oregon, wine grapes and hemp, were the focus of a conference call with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and reporters on Thursday.
When wildfires filled the skies of southern Oregon and northern California with smoke last year, some vintners lost customers out of a fear that the flavor of their grapes had been contaminated with “smoke taint.”
Merkley, the Democratic lead on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development, discussed a $5 million appropriation he’s supporting that would focus on research into the effects of wildfire smoke on grapes.
“One of the questions is how do you measure this? And another is what are the compounds that are deposited and what risk do they pose?” Merkley said.
Merkley says the research funds will be directed to Oregon State University and other West Coast schools including UC Davis in California and Washington State University.
Merkley also called for more transparency when it comes to CBD products from the state’s booming hemp industry.
“We’re in the wild west with CBD,” Merkley said, referencing the need for increased attention from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for labeling and the disclosure of ingredients in CBD products.
Merkley said the FDA has largely avoided regulating CBD products as long as there are no health complaints made.
“I personally would encourage them to put a significant effort into accurate labeling and disclosure,” he said.
A recent investigation by the Associated Press into vaping-related illnesses revealed CBD products from around the country that were spiked with synthetic marijuana, rather than the more expensive CBD oil.
None of the tested products were from Oregon. However, there have been four vaping-related illnesses in the state, including one fatality. Officials with the Oregon Health Authority said they’re still investigating the causes of the illness.