Since the legalization of hemp in the state, Missouri has been one of the most progressive and unfettered states with regard to agricultural cannabis. But with the demise of the Industrial Hemp Program and removal of oversight by Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA), the hemp industry in the Show-Me State has anxiously anticipated what changes were to come.
Since Delta-8 burst on the scene in 2021 it has been a looming issue for hemp businesses as state regulators and lawmakers looked for ways to best regulate an intoxicating product that has little-to-no oversight. In less than a year, more than 20 states had made Delta-8 sales illegal or restricted sales to licensed facilities.
As more and more states became increasingly restrictive of Delta-8 and other intoxicating cannabinoid variants, regulators in the state remained silent – in part due to the lack of funds and support for MDA as a regulatory body for hemp. While the state’s medical marijuana industry was rich with regulation and oversight, hemp was largely overlooked by elected officials, and with no requirements or restrictions built into the framework of state legalization, hemp in Missouri faced fewer restrictions than nearly all neighboring states and a majority of states in general.
While a bulk of Missouri hemp operators have pushed industry participants to enact self-regulation and peer oversight – the lack of clear rules and regulations left a void.
Now, as issues concerning the regulation of Delta-8, Delta-10, and other intoxicating cannabinoids have garnered more national attention, Missouri is faced with playing catch-up.
HB 1328, proposed by Representative Kurtis Gregory, R-Marshall, would pull a bulk of hemp products produced both inside and outside the state from the shelves of stores, gas stations, and other retailers in Missouri, requiring any intoxicating product containing THC “or any other intoxicating cannabinoid” to be sold exclusively at licensed dispensaries.
HB 1328 reads in part:
“1. Any intoxicating product sold in this state containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or any other intoxicating cannabinoid, in any form and from any source, shall be:
Subject to the regulations promulgated by the department of health and senior services under Article XIV of the Constitution of Missouri and treated as marijuana under such regulations; and
Sold only by dispensaries licensed by the department of health and senior services under the regulations described in subdivision (1) of this subsection.
2. No facility licensed under the regulations described in subsection 1 of this section or any other facility shall manufacture or sell any product that contains synthetic cannabinoids or cannabimimetic agents, as defined or described in 21 U.S.C. Section 812 and paragraphs (nn) and (uu) of subdivision (5) of subsection 2 of section 195.017”
What would HB 1328 mean for full-spectrum products with trace amounts of THC?
While most hemp operators Greenway spoke with support regulation of intoxicating products – many take issue with what they see as overreaching restriction on products. With hemp products considered federally legal, many operators feel any regulation should be as minimally restrictive as possible.
For other hemp businesses, both in and out of the state, uncertainty about what defines an intoxicating product is the biggest concern with the proposed legislation.
A lack of clarity leaves much to be interpreted. Products like full-spectrum CBD, which have no intoxicating effects, still contain trace amounts of THC and other cannabinoids. If any concentration of THC in a product would result in removal from shelves, Missouri could see a significant portion of its share of a $4 billion national industry slip away.
“It is a very slippery slope when you have legislative bodies trying to regulate commercial products that they know very little, if anything, about – with the majority of elected officials having little-to-no scientific background and knowledge about the cannabis plant or cannabinoids,” explained Bradford Goette, CEO of Nirvana Investments.
Nirvana is the parent company to Relax Brands, one of the country’s leading wholesalers of CBD brands. “This proves true specifically in the area of CBD and hemp-related products,” Goette continued. “It is surprising that in an agricultural state, there isn’t more thought and effort by legislators and regulators seeking to better understand the benefits and concerns of cannabis in all its forms. Cannabinoids, including THC, and their variants can have potential benefits that have not yet been fully determined. The FDA or Department of Agriculture would seem to be much better agencies to make these determinations than the Missouri House and Senate.”
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