Are Hemp-Derived Delta-8 Products That Get You High Legal? – Congress Punts on Final Decision Until September 2024

December 9, 2023 · Cannabis.net

President Joe Biden signed an emergency funding bill into law on Thursday to avert a government shutdown. Notably, the legislation also extends the Farm Bill until September 2024, granting Congress additional time to formulate a new one. Advocates anticipate that the upcoming bill will address the expanding national market for hemp-derived cannabinoids, including the contentious delta-8 THC.

As lawmakers embark on crafting replacement legislation, their focus will encompass the requirements of domestic agriculture, with specific attention to the concerns of hemp farmers and producers. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable, along with 30 other cannabis organizations, has submitted a list of nine priorities to the House and Senate committees responsible for shaping the new Farm Bill.  The story “Under 0.3% THC by Net Weight Creates the Biggest Loophole is Drug Law History” covers how Delta-8 and Delta-9 derived from hemp and that get you high claim to be legal.

These priorities encompass various aspects, such as

  • Enhancing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s hemp program through increased funding and staffing,
  • Compelling the Food and Drug Administration to regulate hemp extracts like CBD,
  • Designating hemp as a specialty crop,
  • Repealing restrictions preventing felons from participating in hemp production,
  • Fostering hemp research at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges, and Hispanic-serving institutions,
  • Eliminating Drug Enforcement Administration registration for hemp-testing labs,
  • Easing regulatory burdens,
  • Permitting hemp grain for animal feed,
  • Addressing THC levels for hemp.

Jonathan Miller, the general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, discussed these priorities and potential challenges for low-THC cannabis farmers and processors in an interview with MJBizMagazine, shedding light on the considerations as lawmakers gear up to finalize a new Farm Bill.

Anticipated Modifications to Hemp in the 2023 U.S. Farm Bill

A prominent concern within the industry revolves around the insufficient regulation by the FDA regarding CBD and other cannabinoids.

Efforts are underway to introduce amendments to the Farm Bill, mandating FDA oversight of CBD. However, a jurisdictional challenge exists initially, as the version emerging from the U.S. House of Representatives will likely need provisions concerning the FDA. The House Agriculture Committee lacks jurisdiction over the FDA.

Nevertheless, as the bill progresses to the Senate, the floor, or conference committee discussions, expectations are high for including language addressing this regulatory gap—a pivotal need for the industry. While the House Energy and Commerce Committee leans toward a separate bill to maintain jurisdiction over CBD, there is a consensus that some legislative action is desired within the current year.

What is the Probability of Approving a New Farm Bill This Year?

The likelihood of a new Farm Bill passing this year is still being determined, with attention centered on two fundamental conflicts, particularly concerning the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. The dynamics of this issue are less of a partisan struggle between Democrats and Republicans and more of an internal battle within the Republican Party.

The disagreement is notably prominent within the Freedom Caucus and the party’s right-wing faction. This faction remains discontented with the previous debt-ceiling deal and may leverage the Farm Bill to address their concerns.

Consequently, House Republican leadership faces a genuine challenge in delivering a proposal that can simultaneously satisfy the demands of the far-right wing and garner support from Democrats. The outcome remains uncertain amid these complex political dynamics.

Which Members of Congress are Leading the Way in Influencing Hemp-related Legislation?

The influential figures shaping hemp-related policies in Congress include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key player with significant impact on hemp-related matters. Another notable figure is Jamie Comer, the House Oversight Committee chair, who intends to hold hearings on hemp and CBD.

The leaders of specific committees also hold considerable sway in these discussions. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Glenn “GT” Thompson, chair of the House Agriculture Committee, are pivotal players in influencing hemp-related decisions in the House.

On the Senate side, Debbie Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture (Nutrition and Forestry), and Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, will contribute significantly to the discourse. Additionally, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to shape hemp-related policies substantially.

The 2018 Farm Bill

As per Reuters, the temporary bill allocates farm programs and food assistance funding until September of the following year. The farm bill is a component of a substantial spending package that Congress renews on a five-year cycle. The previous farm bill, sanctioned in 2018, legalized the production and sale of hemp across all 50 states.

However, the 2018 Farm Bill also paved the way for unregulated competition from hemp-derived products, impacting the tightly regulated marijuana industry operating under state legality. This legislation resulted in an influx of new products, including those containing CBD, delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, and other intoxicating cannabinoids—some originating from synthetic processes. These products entered smoke shops, gas stations, and online platforms.

The proliferation of CBD, hemp-derived delta-8, and delta-9 THC products has presented challenges for state legislators and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA, responding to concerns, issued warning letters to companies selling hemp-derived products that either made unsupported medical claims or marketed delta-8 THC products in packaging resembling typical snacks and candies consumed by children.

With federal action still pending, several states, including Kentucky and Virginia, have started enacting laws to prohibit or significantly restrict hemp-derived products. In response, hemp companies have initiated legal actions to contest or delay the implementation of such state bans.

Conclusion

Recent legislative developments highlight the intricate landscape surrounding the Farm Bill and hemp-related regulations. President Joe Biden’s signing of the emergency funding bill extends the Farm Bill until September 2024, allowing lawmakers to address critical issues in the hemp industry. Advocates, led by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, emphasize nine priorities, including FDA regulation of CBD and hemp as a specialty crop.

The uncertainties regarding a new Farm Bill passage this year, influenced by internal Republican conflicts and debates over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), underscore the challenges of bipartisan cooperation. Congressional figures like Mitch McConnell, Jamie Comer, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Glenn “GT” Thompson, Debbie Stabenow, Bernie Sanders, and Chuck Schumer play crucial roles in shaping hemp-related policies.

Reflecting on the 2018 Farm Bill, its legalization of hemp production triggered opportunities and challenges. The surge in hemp-derived products prompted FDA and state regulatory concerns, leading to legal battles and state-level restrictions. The evolving legislative landscape emphasizes the need for a comprehensive regulatory framework to govern the growing hemp industry, balancing federal, state, and industry interests. (Full Story)

In categories:Delta-8 Hemp Politics
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