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Farm Bill Amendment A “Hemp-Killer”

An amendment to close the loophole allowing the sale of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoid products would devastate the U.S. hemp industry according to a trade group.

The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal, classing it an agricultural product like any other. But it also created an opportunity to legally produce intoxicating THC cannabinoids, usually created through manipulating the non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD sourced from hemp.

The genie very quickly leapt from the bottle and many states have been trying to cram it back in since. One of the major concerns is some of these products mimic popular snack foods and are available to children.

There’s an opportunity to rectify the situation with the next, and now very overdue, Farm Bill. In March this year, 21 attorneys general urged the Committee On Agriculture to tighten up the definition of hemp.

The Senate Agriculture Committee Democratic leadership released a summary of their Farm Bill draft in early May, but that didn’t indicate any change to the hemp definition – that may be still to come.

But last week, a provision was inserted by Rep. Mary Miller, a Republican, in their version and the House Agriculture Committee passed it.

“I am also proud my amendment was included to close the loophole that has allowed drug-infused THC products like Delta-8 to be sold to teenagers in packaging that looks like candy,” said Rep. Miller. “We must stop teenagers and children from being exposed to addictive and harmful drugs.”

The amendment would only allow for naturally produced cannabinoids – which would make cannabinoids such as Delta-8 illegal. Any hemp-derived cannabinoid product containing quantifiable amounts (as determined by the Secretary) of THC, THCA or any other cannabinoids with similar effects to THC would be excluded from the definition of hemp. While THCA isn’t intoxicating, once heated it’s transformed into THC.

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable is staunchly opposed to the amendment. It says:

  • It would federally ban all ingestible hemp products that have any quantifiable* THC in them.
  • The hemp fiber and grain industry would largely be unable able to comply with new measurements for compliant THC.

The Roundtable says it would deliver a “death blow” to the hemp industry.

“It is simply a cynical effort to allow a few monopolistic marijuana companies to gain anti-competitive advantage over products that are not in their purview.”

The group is asking supporters to petition their Member of Congress, urging them to amend the Farm Bill to remove the provisions – and failing that, oppose the Farm Bill on the House floor. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable seems reasonably confident this will be stopped due to the “considerable” differences between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.

* As mentioned in the amendment, “quantifiable amounts” of THC would be determined by the Agriculture Secretary. Currently the threshold is 0.3%. But with THCA thrown in, it could be quite difficult to have compliant products if the threshold is low.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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