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California Cannabis Industry Association White Paper Discusses Dangers of Unregulated Hemp Products

California Cannabis Industry Association has published a white paper on the condition of the cannabis market. Featuring main author Tiffany Devitt, as well as other contributors, the white paper entitled “PANDORA’S BOX The Dangers of a National, Unregulated, Hemp-Derived Intoxicating Cannabinoid Market,” refers to the hemp industry as a public health crisis. “While cannabis and its derivatives remain federally illegal, massive loopholes in the federal definition of hemp are being exploited by ‘hemp’ product manufacturers to sell extremely potent, often chemically synthesized intoxicants that are more powerful than anything available in licensed cannabis dispensaries,” the paper states in its executive summary.

This report focuses on the approval of 2018 Farm Bill. It approved hemp material and byproducts. “Industry stakeholders widely assumed that the 2018 Farm Bill intended to legalize nonintoxicating hemp products, such as CBD. However, a recent court decision affirmed that, intentionally or not, Congress left the barn door open,” the report explained. “On May 19, 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal issued its ruling in AK Futures, LLC v. Boyd Street Distro, LLC, 35 F4th 682 (9th. Cir. 2022), affirming a District Court’s decision that products containing Delta-8 THC are lawful under the Farm Bill because they meet the statutory definition of industrial hemp—even though they can get consumers high.”

This whitepaper addresses four key recommendations. The first is federal legalization. “Cannabis needs to be legalized and regulated at a federal level, and all plants grown for cannabinoid content should be subject to a similar set of regulations rather than an arbitrary, unworkable THC threshold,” the recommendation states.

The paper also states that the amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill is needed in order close existing loopholes. Third, to call on the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to “approve or disapprove of novel or synthesized cannabinoids not found in the plant in commercial quantities.”

Finally, the paper urges California to immediately enforce current laws to protect customers. “Given the lack of federal leadership on cannabis policy, California has an opportunity to set an example for other states by crafting and implementing a coherent regulatory framework that encompasses all plants grown for cannabinoid content rather than industrial purposes. Now is the time to do that.”

In March, Delta-8 cannabis flower was spotted at a farmer’s market in Missouri—just one example of how some producers are taking advantage of that loophole. Georgia legislators nearly voted for a Delta-8 misleading bill that month.

The FDA issued warning letters in May to five companies that were selling Delta-8 products. “The FDA is very concerned about the growing popularity of delta-8 THC products being sold online and in stores nationwide. These products often include claims that they treat or alleviate the side effects related to a wide variety of diseases or medical disorders, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, nausea, and anxiety,” said FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “It is extremely troubling that some of the food products are packaged and labeled in ways that may appeal to children. We will continue to safeguard Americans’ health and safety by monitoring the marketplace and taking action when companies illegally sell products that pose a risk to public health.”

While safety is a concern for children, it remains an issue. NBC Washington reported on Oct. 27 that seven middle-school students from Virginia had access to Delta-8 THC edibles. The Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares issued a statement on the matter. “We’re trying to shut down on it. We don’t want it to end up in anyone’s inbox when they’re doing Halloween trick or treating,” he said.