In an effort to clear up ambiguities and concerns surrounding the hemp industry, the Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) has approached Congress to redefine and regulate hemp and its derived cannabinoids, especially the contentious delta-8 THC. The association, which was established in 2020, has put forth its recommendations in light of the explosive popularity of certain hemp-derived products post the 2018 Farm Bill.
The New Farm Bill Proposals
CANNRA’s recent communication, a letter addressed to the chairs of the House and Senate committees on September 15, detailed the “key initial changes that are urgently needed.” This move is aimed at ensuring a level playing field by addressing the unchecked growth of what many see as a rogue competitor to the heavily regulated cannabis market.
The Farm Bill, traditionally reviewed and rewritten every half-decade, is due for reconsideration in the current Congress. However, the legislators are already burdened with a packed agenda that includes staving off an impending government shutdown and long-anticipated cannabis banking reforms. Despite these pressures, the association hopes its proposals will be given due attention.
Central to the concerns of CANNRA is the current definition of hemp. As it stands, hemp is categorized as any Cannabis sativa plant with a THC content of 0.3% or less. This narrow definition has proven problematic for regulators, particularly in the context of products containing delta-8 THC.
CANNRA’s suggested redefinition seeks to encompass both THC and THCA (the latter converting to THC when subjected to heat) under the hemp classification. Furthermore, the association is pushing for clearer distinctions between hemp cultivated for various purposes: be it for fiber, food, or feed, versus those grown explicitly for THC or CBD extraction.
Addressing THC Limits and Regulation
Among the list of changes sought by the regulators is the establishment of varying THC thresholds, differentiating between the permissible THC content in a hemp plant and that in a finished product.
More importantly, in a bid to ensure safe and ethical practices in the industry, CANNRA is advocating for the appointment of a “federal regulator with a background in public health and consumer protection.” This move is intended to close potential loopholes that product manufacturers might otherwise exploit, ensuring that hemp-derived products maintain the highest standards for public safety and consumer protection.
Should the recommendations of CANNRA be adopted in the next Farm Bill, the landscape of the hemp and cannabis industry could undergo significant changes. Products that contain intoxicating cannabinoids derived from hemp, like delta-8 THC, which have surged in popularity since 2018, may face more rigorous regulations.
The overarching goal, as iterated by CANNRA, is to strike a balance. The group intends to address the rising interest in these items from the public while also guaranteeing that hemp-based products are produced and used securely, uniformly, and within suitable oversight.
In sum, as the line between hemp and marijuana continues to blur, and as products derived from these plants gain more traction in the market, the call for a comprehensive and clear regulatory framework becomes all the more urgent. Only time will tell if the federal legislators heed CANNRA’s call.