May 31, 2022
Victory in CO, Improvements in MN, Your Urgent Action Needed in VA & LA
This afternoon, the hemp industry will have scored another important victory—this time in Colorado. As we reported in recent weeks, the Roundtable worked closely with a broad Colorado hemp industry coalition to improve SB 22-205, a bill that seeks to address the growing issue of intoxicating compounds being sold unregulated at retail under the hemp name. The compromise version of the bill that the Roundtable supported will be signed into law by Governor Jared Polis TODAY at 1:50pm MT.
The new law will:
- Create a task force of hemp and marijuana industry representatives and government officials to intentionally study the topic of intoxicating compounds and propose legislative and rule recommendations. The task force will have broad representation from regulators, manufacturers, refiners, retailers, labs, consumer nonprofit organizations, and adult-use patients, and is intended to ensure that all viewpoints are captured and incorporated in whatever recommendations develop.
- Provide immediate authority to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to develop regulations to prohibit the sale of chemically-converted and synthetically-derived intoxicating THC isomers.
- Provide immediate authority—and nearly $600,000 in funding—to the Colorado Attorney General to crack down on deceptive trade practices and other consumer protection issues regarding hemp products.
As Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller remarked, “We are grateful to Governor Polis, his staff, and legislative leaders who listened to the hemp industry’s concerns and helped transform a flawed bill into one that will address our mutual concerns. Collaboration and persistence on this important issue ultimately won the day, demonstrating the critical role Hemp Supporters continue to play when it comes to the latest topics in the industry. What happened in Colorado may even prove the model for how to thoughtfully and appropriate tackle intoxicating cannabinoids masquerading as hemp in the remainder of the states.”
In Minnesota, we alerted you to a concerning bill—HF 3595—that would have imposed onerous THC limits on hemp products and subjected them to 21-or-older age restrictions. The bill appeared stalled in the legislature, but in the waning hours of the legislative session, the bill was taken up in an unrelated bill concerning long-term care consultation services—HF 4065—that passed by overwhelming margins. HF 4065 awaits the Governor’s action.
The good news is that HF 3595’s original language was significantly improved in HF 4065. Under the new language, edible cannabinoids products with 0.3% or less THC may be sold, subject to labeling, packaging, and testing restrictions. Arbitrary and onerous THC limits were increased to 5mg per serving/50mg per package. And, with the growing trend in states like Michigan and Oregon, intoxicating cannabinoids under these THC limits are restricted to adults only.
Unfortunately, the legislature used a bit too broad a brush and swept all hemp-derived cannabinoid products into the 21 or older restriction lane. Stay tuned, because if HF 4065 is signed into law, we will mobilize next year to address the age restriction to ensure that it does not apply to non-intoxicating hemp products.
Last April, we declared victory in Virginia where legislators rejected a last-minute addition to SB 591 that would have restricted access to full spectrum and broad spectrum hemp extracts to those 21 years or older. Unfortunately, a similar restriction has raised its ugly head again, as in a backroom maneuver during the Memorial Day weekend. The restriction was added to amendments to HB 30, the two-year budget bill. It would limit any hemp extract, food with hemp extract, or ingestible or inhalable substances, with any amount of THC, to persons 21 or older. Age restrictions such as this send an inaccurate and inappropriate message to consumers: that these non-intoxicating health and wellness products are dangerous or should be associated with a vice of some sort. Moreover, when faced with having to segregate these items and check 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.
The age restriction in HB 30 is our focus, and Virginia Hemp Supporters are encouraged to use our State Action Center to urge legislators to remove the restriction from the conference amendments. But it is important to note that labeling, testing, and packaging requirements were also added to the bill, including what appears to be a novel requirement that a paper COA be provided with the product at sale, and a potentially problematic requirement that hemp products with any amount of THC use child-resistant packaging, which only one other state requires. There is also a provision that limits the opportunity to comment on future regulations for hemp extracts.
Finally, we’re renewing our call for an amendment to Louisiana HB 758. As discussed here, the bill prohibits adding a consumable hemp product to foods or beverages and sets up a series of age restrictions that will likely confuse retailers and consumers. The bill has been awaiting final action in the Senate for more than two weeks, which may be a sign that tides are turning against the bill. Now is the time for Louisiana Hemp Supporters to use our State Action Center to urge lawmakers to substitute the confusing approach of HB 758 with the approach adopted recently by Colorado: developing a task force, including representation of the hemp industry, to develop scientifically-based standards for determining intoxication levels.