States Seek Fix for Hemp Law Exploits by Unregulated Products

April 1, 2024

Twenty-one state attorneys general are pressing House and Senate Ag Committee leaders to rewrite the farm bill’s hemp regulations, saying they have opened up a “massive gray market” for hemp-derived products as potent as cannabis.

The 2018 farm bill made it legal for farmers to grow industrial hemp so long as it contained tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels of 0.3% or less. The attorneys general, in a letter to House Ag Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson and Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, called the law's language “glaringly vague” and said the THC limit “is inadequate to distinguish the potential for intoxication." 

They said states have seen “excessively potent products that are manufactured under fewer controls than in states that have legalized cannabis,” which is deemed a controlled substance by the federal government. Some of these products, they claim, have been sold under misleading labels or consumed by people under the age of 21. Some “poorly manufactured” hemp-based products, they say, have even led to poisonings. They estimated the market for these products is worth $28 billion, according to the letter.

"Regardless of your committees’ intentions, the reality is that this law has unleashed on our states a flood of products that are nothing less than a more potent form of cannabis, often in candy form that is made attractive to youth and children — with staggering levels of potency, no regulation, no oversight, and a limited capability for our offices to rein them in,” the attorneys general wrote.

The state AGs called for lawmakers to clarify that the farm bill language is not intended to pre-empt state-level regulation of hemp derivatives. They also called for Congress to ensure there is no “federal hemp intoxicants loophole” that can be exploited by product makers. 

Attorneys general from Indiana, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington all signed the letter.

Source: Agri-Pulse