April 15, 2022
Red Alert in VA & CO, New Bill in RI
Check out the latest legislative updates across the states and take action today!
As we have been reporting over the past few weeks, the US Hemp Roundtable has been working with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s office to fix a devastating provision in SB 591 that would have imposed draconian THC mg limits for hemp products (0.25/serving; 1.0/package), virtually criminalizing the full spectrum hemp industry. Thanks to your advocacy, the Governor excised those restrictions from the bill.
Unfortunately, out of nowhere, the Governor’s version adds an age restriction of 21-or-older for hemp extracts that contain any amount of THC. Treating non-intoxicating hemp and CBD products like alcohol and tobacco and marijuana is not only fundamentally inappropriate, it would pose tremendous burdens on retailers to differentiate full-spectrum hemp extract products from other hemp products in their inventory. As full spectrum definitions and labeling practices differ across the industry, retailers will be required to interpret certificates of analysis for finished products to determine which products have any amount of THC, which requires technical expertise and creates an undue burden. Rather than undertake this complicated technical exercise, retailers may choose to segregate full spectrum products, or all hemp products, which would hinder commerce, chill the economy, and send an inaccurate message that hemp products are a public health or safety risk. Coupled with the burden of checking photo identification prior to selling these products, retailers may choose to not carry these products altogether – hurting farmers and business owners of every size in Virginia and the rest of country who are engaged in this industry, as well as consumers in the state who are clearly demanding access to these products. Age restrictions such as this also send an inaccurate and inappropriate message to consumers: that these safe health and wellness products are dangerous or should be associated with a vice of some sort.
To be clear, the US Hemp Roundtable strongly supports age restrictions for intoxicating cannabis products. But by inappropriately drawing the line at 0 THC, this bill would pose a devastating impact on the legitimate, non-intoxicating hemp and CBD industry. Please use our State Action Center to urge legislators to excise the age restrictions from SB 591.
This week, Colorado legislators introduced SB 22-205, legislation aimed at addressing the growing issue of intoxicating compounds being sold under the hemp name. The bill comes on the heels of months of negotiations among stakeholders in the hemp industry, marijuana industry and state regulators.
While we believed the drafters had adequately understood the positions of the hemp industry, the introduced bill makes clear that there has been a breakdown of communication: Too many of the hemp industry’s concerns were unaddressed or rejected by the drafters. Fortunately, there is time to fix it.
Fundamentally, all of the parties at the table agreed on a general principle: Intoxicating compounds must be regulated and limited to adults only, while non-intoxicating hemp products should be permitted at retail along with other dietary supplements and food and beverage additives. However, this bill contains many provisions that do not address that mission, and potentially criminalize the provision of non-intoxicating hemp products, thereby ensuring a mass exodus of legitimate hemp businesses from Colorado.
The US Hemp Roundtable opposes SB 22-205 in its current form. Working with stakeholders on the ground, we will be working to secure amendments to address critical problems in the bill, including:
- In what appears to be a drafting error, non-intoxicating hemp extract tinctures would be limited to 20 mg of THC per bottle, with criminal penalties and/or civil rights of action for violations. This would virtually wipe out full spectrum hemp tincture commerce.
- The bill would require Colorado CBD manufacturers to immediately destroy much of their stock of non-intoxicating full-spectrum products that exceed the 20 mg THC package cap (including tinctures, caplets, gummies, etc.) , prohibiting them from selling these products to states where they are legal, and potentially imposing criminal and civil penalties on their storage and distribution.
- In determining whether future cannabinoid products are intoxicating, the law would not require a scientific analysis and could lead to improperly classifying some novel non-intoxicating compounds as adult-use cannabis.
- The legislation does not provide a certain path to protect the retail sale of CBN products that are demonstrably non-intoxicating. Protections for non-intoxicating products are limited to CBD, CBG and CBC (and acids), stifling innovation.
- There would be no grace period whereby retailers could sell non-intoxicating products that are packaged legally as of today, but would fall outside the new limits. There are also no safe harbors for manufacturers handling in-process or bulk ingredients. This would require small businesses to immediately destroy non-intoxicating products that complied with the rules when they were manufactured, or face possible criminal penalties.
- While the bill provides no protections for Colorado-based companies that sell full-spectrum products nationwide, it does not meaningfully address the fundamental problem of out-of-state companies selling intoxicating products under the guise of hemp online into the state. This exacerbates an already uneven playing field.
- Worse yet, we are hearing that some cannabis advocates are pushing for even more restrictive THC mg limits which could result in eliminating all broad and full-spectrum hemp products from the retail marketplace.
We appreciate and support the Polis Administration’s intent to crack down on the unregulated retail sale of clearly intoxicating compounds masquerading as hemp. But with the legislation using too broad a brush, we must push back on provisions that would wreak havoc on the Colorado hemp/CBD industry and further undermine the efforts of struggling Colorado hemp farmers.
We will keep you in touch with the progress, and may need to call on your help to secure a reasonable and fair regulatory system.
Finally, a new bill in Rhode Island—HB 7254—establishes a track-and-trace blockchain program for commercial hemp activity. The bill is intended to promote financial innovation in an original way, but its hemp-related definitions are technically incorrect and confuse hemp with marijuana in many respects. We sent a letter to the bill sponsors urging them to amend the definitions to match the 2018 Farm Bill and broad state definitions for hemp products. We asked also that the bill enact a more equitable standard for determining how water use and environmental impacts will affect eligibility for a hemp cultivation license, due to the costs and evolving nature of sustainable production methods.