'It's Not About Public Health & Safety, It's About Greed': Non-Profit Sounds The Alarm About Big Cannabis' War On Hemp

Is the marijuana industry against hemp? If so, Why?

A non-profit advocacy organization committed to promoting policies and legislation that lead the way forward for hemp and CBD, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable is warning about the legislative efforts across several states that are endangering the hemp industry.

“There’s a war on hemp being waged in state capitols across the nation by some big names in the marijuana industry,” the organization wrote.

The question is, why? Don’t these two industries go hand-in-hand? While cannabis and hemp belong to the same plant species, the important difference between the two lies in their THC content and therefore the legal status of each. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp became legal and defined as containing 0.3% or less THC (the compound that makes you high) by dry weight.

Shortly thereafter, the hemp or CBD industry kind of exploded. CBD, a different cannabinoid found both in cannabis and hemp, is viewed as providing various health benefits.

With that being the case, why would the cannabis industry attempt to limit the CBD space? The U.S. Hemp Roundtable says to minimize competition. It is well known that the cannabis industry has had a rough several years, with the current one marked by plummeting stocks, numerous layoffs and a drop in sales.

While cannabis-focused businesses and organizations are fighting for their survival and pushing for legal changes such as banking reforml enabling financial institutions to provide them with services or for the FDA to fairly regulate marijuana, apparently there are others focused on eliminating the competition, which they view as the hemp retail marketplace.

While there are definitively people behind these efforts who believe their efforts will ultimately improve consumers' safety, the question is – are they right?

Kentucky Is Going About It The Right Way

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable uses Kentucky as an example of how to reasonably regulate the industry in a way that actually puts consumers' safety first while strictly regulating intoxicating cannabinoids and keeping them away from children. 

The House of Representatives in the Bluegrass state overwhelmingly approved a bill last week regulating hemp-derived delta-8 THC products, sending it to the state Senate. House Bill 544 sponsored by Republican Rep. Rebecca Raymer passed in a 97-0 vote. 

The move came about a month after a different piece of legislation was introduced in the state Senate seeking stricter regulation, that is to say banning all forms of “intoxicating products” made from industrial hemp, such as the delta-8 THC. The proposal, which expands existing language in the state's law, is also designed to outlaw other hemp-derived minor cannabinoids like delta-10 THC, THC-O, and THC-P, as per an unofficial copy of the proposal.

The Kentucky Hemp Association highlighted that a ban on delta-8 THC would result in the loss of potentially billions of dollars by Kentucky's cannabis economy, including growers, producers and retail operators.

Other States, Not So Much 

The organization further noted in its report that other states are looking to ban the non-intoxicating hemp retail market – defining “hemp” at THC levels much below reasonable intoxicating limits. 

“This is not about public health and safety. It’s simply about greed,” they wrote. As “bad efforts” to regulate hemp, the organization named activities in the following states: Maryland, Florida, Virginia, Louisana, Arkansas, and Washington State. 

In Maryland for example, two bills SB 516 and HB 556 contain provisions that would limit retail hemp product to no more than 0.5 mg THC per serving, or 2.5 mg THC per package, and likely prohibit delta-8 products. Backers, which include trade groups and medical marijuana industry lobbyists have “misleadingly advised legislators that this would not restrict the sale of CBD products, but failed to be fully transparent in that most CBD products, including full spectrum hemp extract, would actually fall under these restrictions and be cordoned off to the adult-use market.”

For Florida, there's a push for the passage of SB 1676 and HB 1475 that would limit total THC content in hemp products to 0.5 mg per serving and 2 mg per package and would likely prohibit delta-8 and most full spectrum hemp CBD products. 

“Millions of dollars are being poured into these efforts by these monopolistic marijuana interests. The hemp industry cannot compete with these big dollars,” the U.S. Hemp Roundtable wrote.

Some Hemp Business Owners In Maryland Are Also Concerned 

During the November midterms, over 65% of Maryland voters chose to legalize adult-use cannabis. State residents have less than six months to go before enjoying their new right to legally use cannabis for recreational purposes. And while many people and business owners are pleased with the new bill, there are CBD business owners with concerns, writes Wmar 2 News.

Satchel, an employee at Charm City Hemp, a wellness boutique focused on educating consumers on CBD said that the industry is growing thanks to the people who are looking for natural remedies to heal. According to him, a new bill limiting THC content could further negatively impact this.

“Generally everything we carry is going to be hemp CBD which is essentially the same thing,” Satchel said. “Pain relief, stress relief, sleep anxiety, stuff like that. CBD’s nice and it can treat any number of things. Any of those gummies, tinctures, as long as they’re full spectrum meaning it does have trace amounts of THC in it, we wouldn’t be able to sell that.” 

Nicholas Patrick, co-founder of the Maryland Healthy Alternatives Association and owner of a CBD Wellness Center, says they are working with senators to change some of the language in the marijuana reform legislation SB 516. 

“In that specific language is that they've placed a THC milligram cap of 0.5 milligrams per serving, and two and a half milligrams per package,” Patrick said.

“It's a 100-page bill with a lot of focus on social equity and the banking structure and the regulatory structure and the licensing and all of these different parts of it, the criminal justice reform, these are all really good things,” Patrick continued. “But a very little known fact that is that there is language in this bill that's kind of flying under the radar. That would upend the entire Maryland hemp industry, including our farmers, our processors, our retailers, everybody would legitimately go out of business without the amendments.”

Photo: Benzinga edit with images by Giorgio Trovato and Indorgro on Unsplash

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Posted In: CannabisNewsSmall CapMarkets2018 Farm BillCBDCharm City HempDelta-8 THCHempNicholas PatrickRebecca RaymerSatchelU.S. Hemp Roundtable
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