HomeNewsArkansas Hemp THC Ban Tested

Arkansas Hemp THC Ban Tested

As Arkansas enjoys a financial boost from its legal medical marijuana program, all eyes are now turned to a courtroom in Little Rock where the future of hemp-derived THC in the state hangs in the balance.

Act 629, which was passed by Arkansas lawmakers earlier this year, bans the sale of all products derived from hemp with intoxicating effects, including those containing Delta 8 THC. Signed into law by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders in May this year, the ban came into effect on August 1.

But the day before the ban came into effect, several companies active in the state’s hemp industry made legal moves to attempt to reverse it, claiming it violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce and supremacy clauses along with the 2018 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp – defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.)  with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels of no more than 0.3 percent  on a dry weight basis – legal.

While hemp may have very low levels of delta-9 THC, it can have high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which can be transformed into various THC compounds with intoxicating properties such as Delta-8.

On August 8, the Arkansas attorney general’s office filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Part of the argument from the AG’s office relies on an opinion from the chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section stating the creation of Delta-8 THC by a chemical reaction starting from CBD makes the Delta-8 THC synthetic; and as such not exempted by the 2018 Farm Bill.

However, the definition of the term “synthetic” has been hotly debated, as there is no generally accepted definition in US law of the term.

On Wednesday this week in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, a federal judge will reportedly consider temporarily blocking the ban or dismissing the lawsuit.

While the battle over hemp-derived THC rages on, the state is benefiting from its legal medical marijuana program. It provides a revenue stream for the state from a 6.50% sales tax plus an additional excise tax of 4% on each medical marijuana purchase. State taxes on medical marijuana racked up a total of $5.3 million just in January and February 2023.

When we checked in with the Arkansas Department of Health in early March this year, there were 92,546 active medical marijuana cards in the state. As at August 19, there were 93,524 active.

Information on the Arkansas medical marijuana program can be found here.

Steven Gothrinet
Steven Gothrinet has been part of the Hemp Gazette in-house reporting team since 2015. Steven's broad interest in cannabis was initially fueled by the realisation of industrial hemp's versatility across multiple sectors. You can contact Steve here.

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