The Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA), a nonpartisan association representing cannabis and hemp regulatory agencies from 45 member states and U.S. territories, sent a letter on Friday urging Congress to consider changes to the 2023 Farm Bill. The three-page letter was penned in order to close loopholes created by the 2018 Farm Bill.
In particular, the language in the 2018 legislation has allowed intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoid products like Delta-8 and Delta-10 to flood the market since hemp was federally legalized. The 2018 Farm Bill set a standard for psychoactive cannabis at 0.3% for delta-9 THC but failed to mention other THC isomers, which can be derived from hemp-extracted CBD and can cause a mild buzz. Delta 8 is often referred to as light cannabis.
“In the absence of federal clarity and regulation over finished cannabinoid products, state and territorial governments have been left to implement approaches to protect consumers. These approaches vary, and are generally different across jurisdictions, creating a regulatory patchwork for hemp-derived products,” the regulators wrote.
“Additionally, enforcement of state-based regulations by state agencies is difficult when hemp-derived products are produced out of state and shipped directly to consumers across state lines through the mail,” the letter said. “For these reasons, federal regulatory engagement is warranted.”
Some of the proposed changes include amending the definition of “hemp” under the federal statute so that it refers to the crop grown for industrial or agricultural purposes. While hemp-derived cannabinoid products would refer to those items meant for human consumption.
The letter also suggested that the bill should refine its definition of THC to dive deeper into THCA. The letter stated, “THCA is the precursor to delta-9 THC and readily converts to delta-9 THC when heated, combusted, or aerosolized. For this reason, state cannabis programs define total THC in terms of THCA and THC.”
In addition to better definitions of the products, the regulators asked that Congress equip a federal regulatory agency “with public health and consumer protection expertise to set regulations governing cannabinoid hemp products and set guidelines for which biosynthetic and semisynthetic compounds should be allowed.” They would like for the agency to clarify whether semi-synthetic cannabinoids and biosynthetic cannabinoids are allowed under the definition of hemp-derived cannabinoids, and which production and manufacturing approaches are approved.
Finally, The letter also recommended that federal lawmakers make it clear that states can enact their own, stricter policies governing hemp and cannabinoid products. “States and territories need the ability to be nimble to react and adjust to issues that may pertain to their marketplace or population.”
This seemed a little contradictory as the letter requested, on one hand, federal intervention, but then also asked that states be allowed to have their own rules. However, the letter went on to state that enforcement of state-based regulations by state agencies is difficult when hemp-derived products are produced out of state and shipped directly to consumers across state lines through the mail. “For these reasons, federal regulatory engagement is warranted.”
2023 Farm Bill
Every five years, Congress passes legislation that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy, commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill”. The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee passed an agriculture appropriations bill that drastically cut agricultural funding by 30% ($8.3 billion) for the 2024 fiscal year budget as compared to 2023. The bill passed out of the subcommittee along party lines.
On June 22nd, According to the Farm Aid organization, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2024 agriculture appropriations bill, unanimously and with bipartisan approval. Compared to the House Appropriations Committee bill passed the week prior, this bill did not contain the same deep cuts to spending on research, nutrition, and other important programs. “It also did not include the same rider that limited the Packers and Stockyards Act as the House Appropriations bill. The Senate bill set spending at $500 million more than last year, with increases primarily to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.”
The House and the Senate will now need to reconcile their competing pieces of legislation.