A recent amendment, put forward by Rep. Mary Miller, is aiming to eliminate the legal loophole that currently permits the sale of “intoxicating” hemp-based products, including delta-8-THC.

The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture has disclosed a 942-page draft of the 2024 Farm Bill, also known as the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, on May 17. The bill’s estimated cost over a decade is around $1.5 trillion. During a Farm Bill hearing on May 23, the committee approved a set of amendments en bloc, one of which would effectively ban all hemp-derived products.

The proposed amendment, in its current state, would enforce a prohibition on “all ingestible hemp products with any THC level.” It would also redefine hemp to “only encompass naturally occurring, naturally derived, and non-intoxicating cannabinoids,” and exclude cannabinoids “synthesized or manufactured outside of the plant” from the legal hemp definition.

Illinois Rep. Mary Miller proposed the amendment, stating, “My amendment will eliminate the loophole from the 2018 Farm Bill that permits intoxicating hemp products like delta-8 to be sold,” Miller said on May 23. “These products are being marketed to children, leading to hundreds of hospitalizations. We must prevent teenagers and young children from exposure to addictive and harmful substances.”

While some representatives supported Miller’s amendment, they requested additional information. Tennessee Rep. John Rose and Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger both emphasized the need for more clarity, particularly in differentiating between “intentional and unintentional products” in the 2018 hemp definition, and understanding the amendment’s impact on farmers.

However, opposition to the amendment was more widespread. Indiana Rep. Jim Baird and Rep. Derrick Van Orden both argued that the amendment would unfairly disrupt farmers who have invested heavily in hemp businesses since the 2018 Farm Bill. Indiana Rep Zach Nunn shared this sentiment, stating that while he is committed to protecting children from drugs, the amendment “oversteps” by banning hemp grain and fiber industries.

Several hemp organizations, including the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a nonprofit, voiced their concerns about the amendment. They accused the committee of using a procedural tactic to avoid a separate vote on the issue, resulting in the passage of a policy they consider “deeply flawed and deeply objectionable.”

The Farm Bill and its amendments are now headed to the House floor for debate, but the U.S. Hemp remains optimistic that it won’t pass. The organization believes that the differences between House Republicans and Senate Democrats are significant at this point, and even if these differences are resolved, there are many allies in both branches who will fight against this “hemp-killing language.”

Rob Pero, founder of the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association, also expressed concern about the potential impact of the amendment on CBD products. He warned that such a broad prohibition could effectively wipe out 90-95% of the hemp products market, threatening the livelihoods of countless farmers, entrepreneurs, and Indigenous communities relying on the hemp industry for economic sustainability.

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) offered its recommendations on how to regulate intoxicating hemp products effectively. These suggestions include treating intoxicating THC hemp products similarly to cannabis or alcohol, increasing the THC allowance in hemp products to 1% (from 0.3%), and setting “reasonable” THC content limits per serving. NCIA CEO Aaron Smith said, “Congress has the chance to protect public health and support small businesses by implementing sensible regulations for cannabinoid products.”

Author: CanDir