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The Good , The Bad, & the Ugly

LET ME BE CLEAR, My characterization of the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly relate ONLY TO the proposed legislation filed by these Senators and Representative.


I have personally met these men and find them to be Honest, Truthful, and Respectable representatives of the people of their districts. To their credit, each of them have been willing to meet and discuss their proposed legislation.


Rep Dustin Miller - HB 952 Sen Thomas Pressly - SB237 Sen Kirk Talbot - SB 495

The Good


Representative Miller offered HB 952 at the urging of our Association. Prior to filing his legislation, he met with members of the industry, checked the pulse of the legislature, and asked for input from regulatory agencies.


According to Miller, many legislators had wanted to make changes to hemp laws in 2023. Some of them felt they had been deceived by Former Speaker Clay Schexnayder. Speaker Schexnayder was a Strong Proponent of the Hemp Industry and should be credited with creating a new industry in Louisiana that created thousands of jobs, generating millions in tax revenue, and boosting the funding of Early Childhood Development.


After meeting with his fellow legislators, industry leaders & bureaucrats, Rep Miller crafted legislation that he feels will "Clean-Up Current Law" and set the stage for growth of the Hemp Industry in Louisiana.


His bill will restrict the sale of THC homologues such as THC- P, which are significantly more potent than the THC found in hemp. He also proposes a ban of the sale of hemp flower. Current law prohibits the sale of hemp products for inhalation and he feels that hemp flower has little other use than smoking.


Additionally, HB 952 will require retailers to place hemp products behind the counter and not display them on shelves accessible to the public without assistance. Rep Miller is addressing concerns regarding children getting THC products and is responding to his fellow legislators on that issue.


According to the bill, retailers will be required to verify the age of anyone purchasing consumable hemp products, including a provision for the verification of age for online sales. Age verification shall be accomplished by using a digitized ID Card, a valid government-issued ID, or transactional data often used by online services to verify the age of consumers.


HB 952 clarifies how regulatory agencies should determine the serving size of THC in various hemp products. Rep Miller provides guidance on tinctures, beverages, and all other hemp products. LDH has allowed beverages to contain more than one serving of THC in a beverage can, he is limiting a beverage to one serving of THC (8 mg) per can or bottle.


HB 952 adds requirements for testing of consumable hemp products sold in Louisiana. Currently, hemp products are only required to be tested when application is made for label approval. Rep Miller's bill will require the testing of every batch of finished goods. He does add an industry advocated variance allowance for THC testing, which is a common practice due to the limitations of labs to accurately & precisely determine the amount of THC found in products.


In response to concerns expressed by the Alcohol Tobacco Control Board (ATC), Rep Miller's bill will restrict who will be able to obtain an ATC license to sell hemp products. No Felons, No persons convicted of distributing or intending to distribute scheduled dangerous drugs. No persons who owe the government sales taxes.


Yes, HB 952 adds government regulation and bureaucracy to industry regulation. And HB 952 restricts the sale of certain hemp products. That is not all bad. Rep Miller's "Clean-Up" theme offers solutions to concerns that he has identified from industry, regulators, and legislators.


As an industry, we must be responsible. The concerns addressed by Rep Miller are real and needed to be addressed. While our Association may not agree with everything that Rep Miller has proposed, we salute him for tackling a difficult issue and including everyone in the conversation.


Don't like something, don't fuss with Rep Miller, contact your state senator and state representative and share your thoughts with them. ALWAYS BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL to your elected officials, for the most part they are trying to do what they think is best. There are links at the top of the page to find your elected officials.


The Bad: Senate Bill 237


SB 237 would Ban Consumable Hemp Products with any amount of THC. If passed, this legislation would effectively DESTROY THE HEMP INDUSTRY IN LOUISIANA. Thousands of jobs would be lost, Millions in tax revenue would be lost, and Early Childhood Development would lose Millions,


In his presentation to the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Pressly made it very clear that if it were up to him, he would Ban All Hemp Products containing THC. He added that he did not expect that his bill would pass as written and that it was a starting point for negotiations.


I spoke with Sen Pressly this week. He agreed to meet with me next week to discuss his legislation. Presumably, he will not try to get the full Senate to vote on his bill until we meet. SB 237 can be taken up and voted on at any time in the Senate. I appreciate the Senator's willingness to meet.


In reality, I don't think I am capable of changing the Senator's opinion. But he did say he was "willing to negotiate" and he is honoring that pledge. While I can't exactly determine the Senator's motivation to kill an industry, I suspect and believe he just thinks hemp products should not be available for public consumption.


Senator Pressly's belief that outlawing hemp products in Louisiana will keep people from buying the products is short sighted, in my opinion. As we all know, most states allow THC hemp products and Louisiana residents can buy them online. If SB 237 becomes law, I suspect that a lot of Louisianians will be spending their money with out-of-state companies.


SB 237 is pretty straightforward, Kill the Industry. If you oppose this legislation, contact your state senator and state representative. ALWAYS BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL to your elected officials, for the most part they are trying to do what they think is best. There are links at the top of the page to find your elected officials.


The Ugly


Where do I start with this bill?


SB 495 was filed at the last minute, 10 minutes before the deadline on April 2nd. I find the bill to be poorly written, confusing, and possibly loaded with hidden loopholes that may open the door for "Bad Actors" in the industry.


I don't think Senator Talbot did this on purpose. When legislators want a bill written, they send it to staff who draft bills based on what the Senator or Representatives tell them they want to accomplish. Normally, the staff are responsible for getting it written correctly and making sure they get it right. Due to the late filing, I suspect the staff was rushed and just didn't spend the time to review it for clarity and purpose.


Here are some highlights of SB 495


Senator Talbot proposes to ban all beverages containing any form of CBD or THC. Beverages containing CBD and THC are one of the fastest growing hemp products in the marketplace.


Currently, LDH will approve THC beverages with more than one serving in the can or bottle, as long as a measuring device is included with the sale. Other hemp products are limited to a single serving of THC per unit of product, i.e., a gummy.


Presumably, Sen Talbot is responding to what he feels is an abuse and wants to send a strong message about limiting THC in hemp products. Not sure why he didn't simply limit beverages to a single serving like other hemp products.


Senator Talbot proposes to take hemp products out of convenience stores. SB 495 prohibits a retailer from selling hemp products if the retailer sells petroleum products such as gasoline or diesel. That pretty much describes every C-Store in the state.


A majority of hemp products are sold in C-Stores. You pretty much see hemp products everywhere. Many legislators don't like the wide spread availability of hemp products and have concluded that underage consumers are identifying retailers that don't check ID's and illegally buy THC products in these stores.


That may be true, our Association has advocated for more stringent monitoring and enforcement by ATC regarding age verification. SB 495 theoretically punishes the good for the acts of the bad. Taking hemp products away from all C-Stores isn't the answer. It would seem that strict enforcement of age requirements and punishment of offenders is a more reasonable approach.


And the Ugly --


The Making of a "Kingdom" and a "King". SB 495 creates a new license for a Manufacturer and Distributor of hemp products in Louisiana. All consumable hemp products must be distributed by a person holding this license.


Creating a Master distributor level in the distribution chain is probably good for the industry. But there's a catch in SB 495. In order to qualify for this new license, a person/company must have been licensed by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) as a manufacturer of hemp products prior to December 31, 2021. Further, the applicant must have a pending application to obtain a "Good Manufacturing Practices" certification as of December 31, 2023.


While I must admit that my research is limited, I believe that only one company will qualify for the new Consumable Food Manufacturing Distributor (CFMD) license. I will not name the company because I have not confirmed they are the only one. I am pretty convinced though. Let's assume that I am right.


Interestingly, there are no provisions for another company to qualify as a CFMD. In theory, if this one company gets the license then goes out of business, the legislature will have to pass a new law to authorize another King. In the meantime, distribution of hemp products will be disrupted. I must admit, if one company controls (and profits from) all Louisiana hemp sales it would be hard for them to go bankrupt.


SB 495 changes and adds some definitions of terms used in the bill. In redefining THC, the bill eliminates THCa (the acidic form of THC) from the calculation of total THC in a product. Currently, THC potency is limited to .3% of dry weight. As industry participants generally know, THCa is converted to THC when it is burned. This definition change could result in higher potency hemp flower being sold in Louisiana.


The bill adds a definition of "Synthetic Cannabinoid". The broad definition leaves the door open for interpretation potentially allowing very potent cannabinoids to be made in a lab and added to hemp products. While likely well intended to limit the potency of hemp products, this definition needs some work.


Vapes! Surprisingly, SB 495 would allow vapes containing THC to be added to the product mix offered by retailers. Louisiana law has always prohibited the sale of hemp products intended for inhalation. In fact, LDH approved some vape products last year then later revoked the approval, and of course a law suit ensured, it is pending.


With many legislators calling for a limitation or ban on THC products (SB 237 - Pressly), it is confusing and hard to understand the logic surrounding the allowance of vape products. Especially considering that HB 621 passed the house yesterday with a vote of 100-1. HB 621 is a follow-up to legislation passed last year that all but shutdown the vape industry in Louisiana. A suit was filed over last years legislation and it is believed that HB 621 was introduced to correct language so that the vape ban will stay in effect. Our Association does not take positions on vape legislation.


While on Vapes, SB 495 anoints the King of Hemp (a CFMD) with the exclusive right to manufacture and distribute vape products in the state. Another provision of the proposed law provides that a CFMD would only be regulated by LDH and that ATC would no power to enforce the law if the CFMD was out of compliance. Really odd approach to legislation, make ATC the enforcment agent for hemp products for everyone except CFMD license holder.


SB 495 is 14 pages long, there is a lot more in the bill. I have attempted to highlight the most obvious concerns with the proposed legislation.


In fairness, I spoke with Senator Talbot yesterday. He is very open to discussing his bill and acknowledged that in the rush to file the bill at the last minute, he did not thoroughly review the last draft of his proposed legislation. That is fairly common in the legislature and I do not find fault with his actions. Most bills get filed, then amended after constituents have an opportunity to voice their concerns.


If you are concerned about SB 495, we suggest you contact your state senator and state representative, not Sen Talbot, unless he is your Senator. ALWAYS BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL to your elected officials, for the most part they are trying to do what they think is best.  There are links at the top of the page to find your elected officials.


The capital is buzzing, lots of legislative activity, and lots of energy being expended. I'll do my best to keep you informed on Hemp Issues in the state capital.


Please feel free to share our News Flashes. Tell your friends and colleagues. They can join as an Association Subscriber for Free and get email notifications on future news.


Daryl


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Apr 18
Rated 1 out of 5 stars.

very uniformed. Sounds like multiple industries while being extremely vague.

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