Non-binding provisions included in President Joe Biden’s recently signed omnibus spending bill recommend new regulations on hemp-derived cannabinoids and research into expanding the federal THC cap on hemp.
These recommendations came from a report released by the U.S. Senate Appropriation Committee and were added to Biden’s spending bill before its signing this month.
The move comes amid Texas' attempts to crack down on THC products, such as delta-8.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp that didn’t exceed 0.3% delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive in marijuana. The same cap was implemented in Texas when it legalized hemp. Some feel that low THC cap is too restrictive for farmers producing the stuff and the committee has similar concerns.
“The Committee is concerned that the level of allowable THC content in hemp may be arbitrary and pose a burden on hemp producers that is not supported by scientific evidence,” the report said.
So, the committee recommended the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services and the Drug Enforcement Agency look further into what the THC cap should be “and suggest alternative levels if necessary.”
A federal bill, dubbed the “Hemp Advancement Act of 2022
," seeks to lift the THC cap to 1% while in production. The end product would still need to fall under 0.3%, under the Hemp Advancement Act of 2022. But included in that cap is every other form of THC, like delta-8 and delta-10
, which are naturally occurring and can produce effects similar to weed.
The 2018 Farm Bill specified that the THC cap is for delta-9 THC. Some say having a total THC cap as low as 0.3%-1% could be even more restrictive than the existing limit.
“The most alarming change is the redefinition of finished consumer hemp products from 0.3% delta-9 THC to 0.3% total THC, which will effectively destroy the smokable flower market and put many hemp farmers out of business,” Texas Hemp Growers, a hemp-industry association, said. “Practically no CBD flower stays below 0.3% total THC post-cure unless harvested prematurely.”
The legalization of hemp led to a booming market of CBD and other hemp-derived products. But the lack of regulation has remained a problem. The provisions in the spending bill look to address that. The FDA is asked to maintain funding to support regulatory activities, which could include developing new policies. It also said the FDA should be conducting research into cannabis-derived substances like CBD. The FDA should also set temporary enforcement policies until it can establish a formal process for reviewing CBD products.
Vince Sanders, owner of CBD American Shaman, described the state of the unregulated industry as confusing.
“You want to do CBD? You want to do delta-8? Great," he said. "Go make it in your bathroom or your garage. Go throw that product on a shelf somewhere. Who knows what’s in it? Those are the problems that we face in this industry. The only way to get rid of them is with government regulation."
Sanders said companies like his have begged for more regulation. “I’m not sure there’s any other industry out there that wants that, but we certainly do because without it, there’s no clarity,” he said.