Cannabis-related businesses, state regulators, prohibitionists, and congressional lawmakers are all pushing to have their priorities included in the forthcoming Farm Bill.

While there are common interests among certain groups, competing proposals have created unexpected tensions.

The hemp industry is at odds with some marijuana companies that have aligned with prohibitionists in advocating for restrictions on intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC. The U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC), which represents major cannabis companies, recently urged congressional leaders to close a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill’s definition of hemp and create a regulatory pathway for non-intoxicating products.

USCC’s recommended language would reclassify intoxicating cannabinoid products as federally illegal marijuana products. Similarly, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) has advocated for clarifying the 2024 Farm Bill to exclude intoxicating semi-synthetic cannabinoids derived from hemp.

Hemp stakeholders, including the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, acknowledge the current statute’s role in an unregulated cannabinoid market. However, they propose robust regulations instead of an outright ban, which they argue would harm an already struggling market. They support provisions to eliminate bans on industry participation by individuals with drug-related felonies and reduce regulatory barriers for hemp farmers.

“Some marijuana organizations have joined prohibitionists to propose bans that could federally criminalize products with any amount of THC, even non-intoxicating full spectrum CBD products,” the Roundtable stated. They advocate for regulating all products and preventing those that may impair users from reaching children.

Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the Roundtable, emphasized the complexity of the marijuana industry and the overlap between hemp and marijuana sectors. He noted that some marijuana companies view adult hemp products as competition due to less stringent regulations.

David Culver, senior vice president for USCC, expressed support for a uniform approach to THC products, advocating for the regulation of intoxicating hemp products similarly to cannabis products. However, the current federal status of marijuana complicates this approach.

The House Agriculture Committee has not yet addressed hemp policy in its Farm Bill summaries. Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA) indicated that hemp remains a contentious issue among committee members. The committee’s stance will become clearer after its scheduled markup session.

Reid Stewart, CEO of cannabis concentrate manufacturer Frozen Fields, expressed concern over the ambiguity of the Senate summary on hemp redefinition, warning of potential negative impacts on small businesses.

State marijuana regulators are advocating for congressional clarification of states’ rights to regulate hemp-based intoxicating cannabinoids, emphasizing the importance of protecting public health and industry integrity.

The Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus has urged the House Agriculture Committee to include measures reducing regulations on industrial hemp farmers. This includes lifting the felony conviction ban for hemp farmers, a move supported by the “Free to Grow Act” and the “Hemp Advancement Act,” which propose other changes like increasing the THC threshold for legal hemp.

Lawmakers and stakeholders continue to consider additional proposals for the Farm Bill, including measures to allow hemp businesses to market products like CBD as dietary supplements or in food.

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