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Oregon THC field tests begin; state will regulate delta-8 THC

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Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) agents have started visiting state hemp farms with THC field test kits after the commission approved temporary rules for its agents to support the state Department of Agriculture (DOA) in compliance enforcement.

The two agencies this week started inspecting hemp operations, where police agencies have said they believe some are nurturing marijuana under the cover of hemp.

The OLCC rules were set following the recent enactment of a broad state cannabis law, HB 3000, which addresses both adult-use marijuana and industrial hemp.

An OLCC spokesman said the agency has a goal for the inspection program to test all Oregon hemp fields. Inspectors are starting in southern Oregon where law officials have said they suspect marijuana is being illegally grown by some hemp-licensed growers. A provision in the law allows the ODA and OLCC to call in the state’s national guard to assist in testing if needed.

What HB 3000 does

In addition to regulating legal cannabis products and cracking down on illegal production, HB 3000 aims to bring Oregon’s hemp program into compliance with state statutes and federal rules based on the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized the crop federally.

Oregon must submit its state hemp plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including a plan to carry out criminal records checks and criteria for denying licenses based on such records.

The legislation also requires establishing tracking requirements for THC, CBD and other hemp cannabinoid products intended for human consumption. The tracking rules are the same as those that pertain to recreational marijuana in Oregon.

A task force to set regulations and encourage farmers to grow cannabis crops is also to be established under provisions of the new law.

Dealing with delta-8

HB 3000 defines the controversial delta-8 THC, which is made from hemp-derived CBD, as an “adult-use cannabinoid,” indicating the state presumably will regulate that compound as opposed to banning it, as some states have done.

Delta-8 THC is produced through a chemical process and is not a natural derivative of the cannabis plant. Because delta-8 THC is derived from hemp, which is legal, the compound had fallen into a legal gray area. The new law in Oregon clears up that confusion by placing delta-8 under the same regulations that cover legal marijuana.

Lawmakers and regulators had worried because delta-8 THC was being sold in convenience stores and other retail outlets not licensed to sell THC products. HB 3000 establishes specific standards to prevent minors from purchasing those products.

The OLCC inspection and testing regulations announced this week are in effect until January next year, when OLCC, ODA, and the Oregon Health Authority are to set specific limits for THC in hemp products intended for sale to adults, and other legislative requirements under the new cannabis law go into effect.

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