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Opponents of California law say they were ‘tricked’ on smokable hemp

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Opponents of a controversial hemp bill that awaits California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature say final wording in the measure effectively bans smokable hemp after negotiations over amendments preceding passage led them to believe such products would be legal.

The State Assembly passed the law, AB45, on Thursday after the Senate had signed off on it earlier in the week, passing it onto Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.

“It’s a trick they pulled on us,” said Chris Boucher, CEO at Farmtiva, a hemp ag services company and CBD consultant who also serves as a board member and treasurer at the California Hemp Farmers Guild. Boucher said wording regarding “inhalables” in the bill’s final draft means those products won’t be available until the state establishes a tax levy. That amounts to an indefinite ban on smokable hemp, Rick Fox, co-chair of the National Industrial Hemp Council’s Government Relations Committee, wrote in an analysis of the law.

Opponents had been led to believe that Newsom had dropped his support for a ban on smokable hemp flowers in the state.

Hitting farmers

Meanwhile, the remainder of the bill “creates a confusing new bureaucracy adding burdensome regulations and compelling CA state agencies to inspect and certify out-of-state hemp facilities selling into California,” the Hemp Farmers Guild, one of several opponents to the bill, said in a statement.

“AB45 doesn’t just inhibit California hemp farmers in the middle of this season’s grow from selling their crop, but will also shut down thousands of California’s CBD Wellness companies by criminalizing their products,” the Guild added.

Those against AB45, which puts hemp under the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, have long argued that the law is the result of lobbying by marijuana interests that are looking to disadvantage industrial hemp.

“These groups have aggressively pushed AB45, a harmful anti-farmer bill masquerading under the guise of consumer safety that will harshly regulate the nascent industry to death,” the Guild said, suggesting the law will disproportionately affect small and minority-owned hemp farmers and mid-size service and CBD companies at all levels who have already spent millions establishing themselves in California.

‘Devastating’

“It’s devastating news. They f*cked the California hemp industry big time,” said Boucher. “Big Marijuana will now grow and sell hemp CBD, CBG, CBN, CBDV and THCV, thus removing almost all hemp farmers from commerce.”ᅠ

In addition to the Hemp Farmers Guild, opponents of the measure included the National Hemp Association, the California Hemp Association, the California Hemp Coalition, the National Industrial Hemp Council and StopAB45.com, a grassroots online initiative.

Organizations supporting AB45 include the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the California Hemp Council, Vote Hemp, the U.S. Hemp Authority, and the Hemp Industries Association.

In a form letter Vote Hemp urged supporters to send to Newsom, the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group said “The regulatory structure created by AB 45 . . . provides significant consumer protections related to hemp-derived products including testing, labeling and adherence to the Sherman Act (California’s food Drug and cosmetics safety law) and current good manufacturing practices under the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

“In addition to CDPH safety oversight, AB 45 requires the same testing for California hemp products as is required for California cannabis products, which are some of the most stringent in the nation,” Vote Hemp said.

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