CA Legislature might ban smokable hemp, permit hemp food, drinks

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(A version of this story first appeared at Hemp Industry Daily.)

California lawmakers will be faced again with the long-debated question of whether to allow hemp extracts in food and beverages in the state when the legislative session opens Monday.

But this time, the proposal comes with a twist: The measure would also ban smokable hemp flower – an increasingly popular and unregulated segment of the industry.

The ban would be a big concession in order to pass a measure that has pitted marijuana and hemp operators against one another other over the regulatory scrutiny each sector faces.

Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, a Democrat carrying the bill, said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration requested the prohibition on smokable hemp.

Aguiar-Curry has touted her bill as a much-needed economic driver during the coronavirus pandemic.

She introduced a similar measure without the smokable hemp ban last year, but it failed in September because lawmakers ran out of time to consider it as they worked on pandemic-relief measures.

In addition to allowing CBD in food and beverages, the bill would also set testing requirements for safety and to ensure products don’t have more than 0.3% THC.

The bill would open the door for CBD products to go be sold legally across California; such sales are now largely unregulated.