Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Law to Ban Hemp-Derived THC

October 3, 2023 · Ganjapreneur

A federal judge has blocked an Arkansas state law that aimed to ban hemp-derived THC products, Arkansas Business reports. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Billy Roy Wilson prevents the state from enforcing the law and the judge also denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, setting a bench trial for September 7, 2024.  

The ban, which took effect August 1, narrowed the definition of hemp “to recriminalize the possession, manufacturing, transportation, and shipment of certain popular hemp-derived cannabinoid products,” the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit, adding that they feared that if the law wasn’t blocked, it “would lead to thousands of lost jobs around the state and turn farmers, business owners, and consumers – including Plaintiffs – into criminals overnight, despite no change in federal law.” 

The now unenforceable state law covered hemp-derived delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, and delta-10 THC and added each to the state’s controlled substances list. 

In the ruling, Wilson said the plaintiffs were likely to win the case and that they suffer “a credible threat of criminal prosecution” that could affect their ability to obtain a license to grow or handle legal hemp as well as lost profits. 

Abtin Mehdizadegan of the Little Rock office of Hall Booth Smith, who represented the plaintiffs, said in an email to Arkansas Business that the judge’s order “represents an important watershed moment for the hemp industry,” noting that while it only applies to Arkansas, the plaintiffs “hope and expect that other states with similarly misguided ideas about banning industrial hemp products will take note.” 

The plaintiffs named Arkansas officials, including Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R), Attorney General Tim Griffin and prosecuting attorneys as defendants. They argued that the law is unconstitutional because it directly conflicts with the federal 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the federal schedule of controlled substances.  (Full Story)

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