A coalition of state AGs wants Congress to clarify the cannabis definition in the upcoming federal Farm Bill. They said perceived loopholes in the existing law have led to a flood of unregulated intoxicating products, some of which end up in the hands of children.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

March 21, 2024

3 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Letter from large coalition of state AGs cites ‘crisis’ in hemp/cannabis sector. 
  • AGs want cannabis definition reworked in upcoming Farm Bill. 
  • Existing rules have allowed unregulated intoxicating products into the market, they claim. 

A coalition of state attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia have sent a letter to two congressional committees seeking clarification of cannabis regulations in the federal Farm Bill that is slated for renewal this year. The proposal has not been welcomed within the hemp industry. 

The letter was sent to four lawmakers: Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-PA, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee; Rep. David Scott, D-GA, its ranking member; Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry; and Sen. John Boozman, R-AR, its ranking member. 

AGs call flood of intoxicating products a ‘crisis’ 

The AGs cited what they called a “a crisis issue impacting our states, our public safety, and our role as law enforcement officials.” The products that concern them are intoxicating cannabinoids, including delta-8 THC, derived from hemp-based CBD. 

The letter states the AGs’ view that language in the 2018 Farm Bill meant to legalize the trade in CBD products made from industrial hemp has — because of the vagueness of its language — opened the door to a flood of intoxicating products. 

“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 AGs wrote to the U.S. lawmakers. 

Related:Is CBD facing an existential crisis?

“Many states now face poisonings from poorly manufactured products, products with misleading labels, and consumption by individuals who are under the age of twenty-one,” the letter continued. 

The letter asks that “The definition of hemp should be amended to clarify that there is no federal hemp intoxicants loophole, and the 2023 reauthorization should reaffirm that members of Congress do not intend to limit states in restrictions or regulations related to cannabinoids or any other derivatives of hemp which are deemed intoxicating.”  

FDA did send a warning letter in September 2023 to a company that was allegedly putting delta-8 THC into products like gummies and cookies. The state AGs’ letter implies that much more enforcement is needed. 

Unintended consequences 

Attorney Jonathan Miller is the general counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable and is a partner in the firm Frost Brown Todd LLP. When approached by Natural Products Insider for comment on the letter from the attorneys general, Miller responded that rather than delving into the Farm Bill fine print, which might open a Pandora’s box, the better, more transparent solution is simply to require FDA to regulate the sector. 

“While we share the attorneys general concerns about the proliferation of unregulated hemp products that sometimes are marketed to children, their proposed solution — as vague as it is — could wreak havoc on the hemp industry and U.S. hemp farmers,” Miller said in an email. 

“A redefinition of ‘hemp’ could open the floodgates for a new prohibition on currently legal products, including those that are non-intoxicating," the lawyer added. " Instead, as we have been urging Congress for years, the optimal approach is to insist that FDA finally regulate all hemp products, ensuring the safety of all of them, and keeping adult products out of the hands of children.”  

 

About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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