Hemp-Derived Intoxicants Need Better Cannabis Law Guardrails
Addressing the Regulatory Gap: Hemp-Derived Intoxicants Require Attention, Not Marijuana.
Hemp-derived consumable products share an important trait with the state-regulated marijuana industry—both manufacture intoxicating substances that are derived from the cannabis plant.
This is why it’s perplexing to see that Smart Approaches to Marijuana, known as Project SAM, has its sights set on the state-regulated marijuana industry rather than the dangerous unregulated hemp-derived intoxicants that are readily available to children without restriction.
It’s apparent that members of Congress didn’t fully appreciate that they were legalizing intoxicating hemp cannabinoid products without guardrails when they de-scheduled hemp and its derivatives in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Because hemp and its derivatives that test below 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis are now arguably legal, hemp cannabinoid manufacturers are exploiting a loophole. They’re infusing high levels of THC in food products such as beverages, gummies, and brownies that are heavy—and thus test below 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis.
Today, any child can buy intoxicating hemp-derived candy, and have it shipped to their house without age verification, lab testing for heavy metals and other dangerous biproducts, dosage limits, or packaging and labeling standards. Oftentimes these products replicate well-known children’s candy brands.
Kids can order direct-to-consumer products online that are astonishingly more powerful than the THC products allowable for sale in the adult-only regulated marijuana marketplace. The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings to the public and sent warning letters to manufacturers about these dangers.
What’s clear is that these products should be regulated just like marijuana products in the 38 states with medical marijuana programs and 24 states with legalized adult-use. This void in law and regulation should concern everyone.
On Jan. 12, a dozen attorneys general sent a letter to the DEA, making the case that re-scheduling marijuana to schedule III is a public health and safety imperative. They explained that the state-regulated marijuana industry has safety protocols in place that are absent in the intoxicating hemp space, and that recategorizing marijuana as a Schedule III controlled drug would provide relief to the state-legal marijuana industry that is trying to do the right thing by prioritizing public safety.
It’s ironic that Project SAM recently convinced a small group of legislators to introduce a resolution calling attention to high potency marijuana products. Ironically, these are some of the same legislators who voted in favor of the 2018 Farm Bill yet now stand silent while many hemp consumable manufacturers sell gummies that test at more than 10 times the THC of marijuana edible products.
The solution isn’t to target state-regulated marijuana products. The public policy imperative is to prohibit intoxicating cannabinoid products from being sold directly to consumers without testing or age verification, regardless of whether their source is marijuana or hemp.
Focusing on the products causing the most harm to children is the best way to address concerns about public health and safety. The evidence is a click away on the FDA’s website.