House committee votes to include intoxicating hemp ban in draft Farm Bill

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An amendment seeking to ban intoxicating hemp-based cannabinoids nationwide is now part of the U.S. House of Representatives’ draft Farm Bill.

The House Committee on Agriculture on Thursday passed an en bloc amendment that, among other things, redefines hemp to exclude intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids.

Six lawmakers directly addressed Amendment 35 during a markup hearing on the Farm Bill, with three arguing on each side of the issue.

“My amendment will close the loophole created in the 2018 Farm Bill that allows intoxicating hemp products like delta-8 (THC) to be sold,” U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, the Illinois Republican who introduced the hemp amendment, said during the hearing.

“These products are being marketed to children and sending hundreds of them to the hospital.

“We must stop teenagers and young children from being exposed to addictive and harmful drugs.”

Hemp strikes back

Hemp industry stakeholders had feared federal lawmakers would try to ban intoxicating hemp in the next Farm Bill.

After the voice vote Thursday, hemp supporters expressed disappointment that U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, a Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the ag committee, had not conducted a roll-call vote for each amendment but opted to pass them en bloc.

“We were confident that on a roll call vote, we would win,” the U.S. Hemp Roundtable said in a statement.

“We had been assured on several occasions by committee staff and the chairman personally that they would not support any effort to kill the hemp industry.

“But unfortunately, the decision was made by the Chairman to use a procedural tactic to avoid a separate vote on the issue.

“And that resulted in passage of a deeply flawed and deeply objectionable policy.”

Opposed to amendment

Leading up to the vote, U.S. Rep. Jim Baird, an Indiana Republican, voiced his opposition to the amendment, arguing that domestic farmers had “invested their time and treasure over the last six years to develop a domestic supply chain of hemp and hemp products.”

Republican Reps. Derrick Van Orden, of Wisconsin, and Zach Nunn, of Iowa, also expressed their opposition to the amendment before it passed.

Ed Conklin, executive director of the U.S. Cannabis Council, which lobbied against intoxicating hemp earlier this spring, praised the amendment after its passage on Thursday.

“Today’s adoption of the amendment is a strong signal that Congress is serious about addressing the national crisis posed by unregulated intoxicating hemp products,” Conklin said in a statement emailed to MJBizDaily.

Meanwhile, Aaron Smith, CEO and co-founder of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said in an email to NCIA members, “There is a better, more rational third way: Sensible federal regulations that apply equally to hemp- and marijuana- derived cannabinoid products.”

Farm Bill moves forward

While the House version of a new draft Farm Bill will include the hemp amendment coming out of committee, its place in the final legislation is far from assured.

“The Farm Bill will be sent to the floor of the House where its passage this year seems unlikely,” according to the Hemp Roundtable.

Additionally, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry has yet to release its own full text of a proposed bill.

“We continue to have many friends in both branches on both sides of the aisle who will work with us to defeat this hemp-killing language,” the Hemp Roundtable statement added.

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