Regulating Intoxicating Hemp Products: Recent Reports and Recommendations from Vermont, Maryland, Virginia and Oregon
By Sam Kovach-Orr
Jan 23, 2023
Last year, several states took up legislation to regulate hemp-derived THC products. Special task forces and cannabis regulatory bodies worked throughout the year to figure out the best approach. Now, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, Oregon, and Colorado have issued reports containing policy recommendations relating to these intoxicating hemp products.
This article will focus on highlights from the following state reports: Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, and Oregon. See 10 Key Takeaways from the Colorado Intoxicating Hemp Task Force Final Report for an in-depth analysis of Colorado's recommendations. For additional background on hemp and intoxicating cannabinoids, watch this informative webinar recording.
The VT Cannabis Control Board (CCB) recently issued a Legislative Report designed to educate the legislature about the issues regarding hemp products. Because the CCB already has authority to regulate these products, it may not result in additional legislation apart from funding in the state budget.
CCB also recently issued an industry-wide bulletin that included many of the recommendations made in the report. The new requirements contained within the bulletin include:
All hemp-derived products containing ≥1 mg of THC per serving must undergo the same testing, labeling, and packaging requirements that cannabis products must undergo
All products containing ≥ 1 mg of synthetic cannabinoids and/or hemp-derived cannabinoids (e.g., ∆8 THC) per serving must undergo the same testing, labeling, and packaging requirements that cannabis products must undergo
All manufacturers and/or retailers seeking to sell any products described above must be licensed with the CCB as Cannabis Manufacturers or Cannabis Retailers, as applicable. These products will be prohibited for sale outside of the regulated cannabis marketplace
The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission submitted a Legislative Report on the classification and regulation of non-∆9 THC products (i.e., products containing THC other than ∆9 THC, which is artificially, synthetically, or naturally derived/manufactured like ∆8 THC).
As a reminder, under current Maryland law, there is no maximum limit on the concentration of THC permitted in a hemp product. The Maryland Department of Public Health adopts the FDA position and does not allow CBD or THC in food or dietary supplements.
The Maryland Report contains several recommendations, including:
Aligning product regulations with products' health and safety risks based upon whether the products contain cannabinoids that are derived synthetically or naturally, whether the products are intoxicating, and whether the products are intended for human consumption
Requiring certain hemp-derived products to be subject to laboratory testing, packaging/labeling standards, therapeutic claims standards, and other product safety measures (e.g., good manufacturing practices)
Requiring licensure for the regulated sale of certain products. (Note, the recommendations do not provide any more detail here as to what type of hemp products would require a license)
Requiring that claims of therapeutic benefit be supported by substantial clinical evidence or data
Expanding public health messaging and resources to include any THC product
The Commonwealth issued an Official Report regarding and making legislative recommendations related to the safe responsible manufacture and sale of industrial hemp extracts and other substances containing THC. The report compiled a fairly limited list of recommendations from task force members and industry stakeholders. Legislation will need to be passed in the next session to make these recommended changes.
Two main recommendations included in the Report are:
Utilization of a "Total Combined THC" standard for hemp products and "marijuana"
Implementation of a requirement for businesses to obtain a permit to lawfully sell certain hemp products
The Oregon legislative "Task Force on Cannabis-Derived Intoxicants and Illegal Cannabis Production" explores potential reforms to the state's regulation of cannabinoid products and legislation for 2023. The Task Force published a Legislative Report in December 2022 with several recommendations that the legislature will likely consider in 2023 rulemaking. The recommendations in the Draft Report include:
Creating a fee-based annual product registration for hemp products intended for human and animal consumption sold to Oregon consumers (excluding topical products)
Require minimum labeling standards for hemp products made in and out of state, including labeling of adult-use cannabinoid products with "Not for Children" or "For Ages 21 and Over"
Direct the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to reevaluate the current levels of THC allowed in hemp items on the general market and determine if the current levels can be reduced
Increased funding for enforcement
Navigating the ever-changing federal and state-by-state regulatory environment for hemp-derived products is complex and tracking the state-by-state legality of intoxicating hemp products can become a confusing and time-consuming undertaking. Stay tuned for more updates to help keep your business in compliance.