THC-containing hemp products become political issue in Louisiana

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The Republican speaker of Louisiana’s House of Representatives is displeased with the state health department because hemp-derived products containing significant amounts of delta-9 THC made it to market.

The apparent proliferation of THC-containing hemp products for recreational use in Louisiana garnered political attention after a beer lobbyist warned legislators about the products in late 2022, according to the Louisiana Illuminator online news outlet.

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, who wrote hemp legislation in 2022, took up the issue with the Louisiana health department, and, according to the Illuminator, he accused the department of “misinterpreting his legislation.”

Health department officials “have acknowledged the agency mistakenly approved about 230 products it shouldn’t have, specifically vape cartridges that some manufacturers disguised as CBD tinctures,” the Illuminator reported.

Schexnayder said nearly 400 unlawful products had been approved.

Some of the confusion around what the Louisiana law permits relates to how many “servings” of THC are permitted in hemp-derived products.

A legislative committee hearing on the issue was held this week to discuss a proposed emergency rule to rein in such products.

“The committee deferred taking any action on the rule,” the Illuminator reported.

In a January advisory, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) warned that “only hemp derived CBD with a THC level less than 0.3% is legal to distribute and sell at retail in Louisiana.”

“Due to an (increased) threat to public safety caused by the proliferation and sale of THC products intended to produce a ‘high’ in the user, the agency will begin aggressive enforcement of marijuana laws at CBD permitted locations,” the advisory continued.

Louisiana also has a legal framework for consumable hemp products that contain delta-8 THC.

Recreational marijuana remains illegal, however.

The state expanded its medical marijuana program in 2022, passing laws to increase the number of dispensaries (called pharmacies) and permit sales to out-of-state residents.

Smokable medical marijuana was permitted as of the beginning of 2022.