The California Cannabis Industry Association published a white paper addressing the state of the cannabinoid 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.

The main focus of the report refers to the general approval of the 2018 Farm Bill, which approved both hemp material as well as 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.”

The white paper addresses four main recommendations to address this issue. First, federal legalization is necessary. “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.

Second, the paper states that an amendment of the 2018 Farm Bill in order to close the 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.”

And finally, the paper calls on the state of California to enforce existing laws right now to protect consumers. “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. That same month in Georgia, legislators almost voted on a misleading Delta-8 bill.

In May, the FDA sent out warning letters to five businesses improperly 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.”

The safety of children is especially concerning, but it continues to be an ongoing issue. On Oct. 27, NBC Washington reported that seven middle school students in Virginia got their hands on Delta-8 THC edibles. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares released a statement about the issue. “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.

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