Bills restricting CBD, ‘diet weed’ likely to be signed by governors in Iowa, Georgia

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Laws that would crack down on CBD and intoxicating hemp products appear likely to be enacted in two more U.S. states as a wave of such legislation continues to wash up on the hemp industry.

Bills addressing intoxicating hemp products — often referred to as “diet weed” or “marijuana light” –  and the CBD from which those products are made – have landed on governors’ desks in Iowa and Georgia as more and more states move to stricter regulation of hemp-derived cannabinoids.

The compounds started appearing and quickly spread after the federal 2018 Farm Bill that decriminalized industrial hemp left a loophole by not setting rules for CBD and failing to account for psychoactive products that can be manufactured from CBD base material that comes from the hemp plant’s flowers.

Iowa to ban intoxicants

The Iowa bill would ban synthetically produced delta-8 THC and similar lab-made “high”-producing compounds that have grown in popularity as substitutes for marijuana products, and restrict the sale and use of naturally-derived non-psychoactive CBD to those under 18 years of age.

Iowa House File 2605 would also restrict consumable hemp products to less than 4 milligrams of THC per serving and 10 milligrams per package.

State Sen. Dan Dawson said the bill to regulate the consumable hemp industry was “desperately needed.” Lawmakers supporting the bill have said they did not intend to legalize intoxicating products when they passed the Iowa Hemp Act in 2019.

The Iowa bill, which now sits on the desk of Gov. Kim Reynolds, would also:

  • Create civil and criminal penalties for businesses that sell consumable hemp without first registering with the state.
  • Allow the state Health and Human Services Department to confiscate non-compliant products from retailers.
  • Force retailers to attach warning labels to consumable hemp products.

21-and-over in Georgia

In Georgia, Senate Bill 494 (SB 494), expected to be signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, would not ban sales of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoid products but would limit sales to those under 21, including products containing CBD extracts. The prohibition affects products intended to be ingested, absorbed or inhaled, according to provisions in the law.

SB 494 also: 

  • Updates rules for licensing, certificates of analysis, inspection and testing, retail operations and signage.
  • Prohibits hemp compounds from being used in alcoholic beverages and food, except for gummies or extracts.
  • Bars packaging that may be considered attractive to children.

Federal rules lacking

In the absence of federal rules, individual states have attempted to combat the unregulated market for intoxicating hemp products, but enforcement resources are short, and court decisions state-by-state have sometimes conflicted – often leading to chaos. 

Also, industry representatives from both the recreational and medical marijuana sectors have complained the intoxicating hemp products represent unfair competition.

Attorneys general from both Iowa and Georgia were among those from more than 20 states who signed on to a bi-partisan letter last month urging Congress to use the upcoming Farm Bill to address the spread of intoxicating hemp products across the nation.

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