Crackdown on intoxicating hemp products could be coming to Colorado – The Durango Herald

The state may begin regulating articles containing Delta-8

Dried hemp plants sorting and trimming on April 12, 2021 in Milton, NY. (Seth Little/Associated Press file)

The CBD you just bought from a small boutique may not be what you think it is.

While marijuana and hemp are heavily regulated in Colorado, some have found loopholes to create intoxicating products that fall into the wrong hands.

On the last day of the Colorado legislative session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 22-205. The bill aims to allow the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to regulate intoxicating hemp products, have a task force evaluate the industry’s current rules for next year’s legislation, and focus on consumer protection.

When the Federal Agriculture Act was passed in 2018, hemp was legalized nationwide. The bill placed no restrictions on the sale, transportation, or possession of hemp-derived products, leading to the plant’s growing popularity. From hemp milk to CBD oil to jewelry, the controversial plant is finding its way into homes across the country.

The hemp plant contains no more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. However, the cannabinoids it contains can be extracted and concentrated to produce effects similar to medical or recreational marijuana. In some cases, delta-9, a form of THC found in medical and recreational marijuana that has intoxicating properties, is being added to foods and dietary hemp products with improper labeling and manufacturing.

Additionally, companies are employing a synthetic conversion of delta-8, a cannabinoid naturally found in hemp, into various products such as intoxicating gummies and wax. Without regulation, there are no restrictions on who can buy the intoxicant.

“(We in Colorado) are way ahead of the curve when it comes to hemp regulation,” said Christian Sederberg, founding partner of Vicente Sederberg, a national cannabis law firm. “Where certain people think we’re lagging behind is in creating regulatory structures to prevent or allow the types of products that contain intoxicating cannabinoids.”

Delta-8

Delta-8 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in both hemp and marijuana. The psychoactive substance is only produced in small amounts in the plant, but can be extracted and concentrated for a stronger user response. Concentrated amounts of Delta-8 are typically made from cannabidiol, better known as CBD.

Jason Hopfer, a lobbyist for The Green Solution dispensaries, expressed concern in an interview with Newsline about the lack of state testing for hemp products and how little the state monitors Delta-8 compared to recreational and medical marijuana.

The marketing of Delta-8 is controversial. Although it’s made from hemp, a legal product, its lack of regulation, potential adverse effects, and wide availability have raised concerns from lawmakers. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved Delta-8 for safe use in any context, but there is otherwise no federal regulation of the product.

However, the FDA has recently raised concerns about Delta-8’s intoxicating nature. Medical providers and law enforcement agencies are more likely to notice side effects. Chemicals used in Delta-8’s extraction and excessive intoxication of users have resulted in some being hospitalized or requiring emergency room visits.

SB 205 would address the lack of governance around the intoxicant.

The FDA sent out letters to companies that sell Delta-8 and some CBD products on May 4, warning them to fix violations. Violations include mislabeling, adding Delta-8 and CBD to foods, and marketing unapproved drugs.

Underage users will see most of the changes

Marketing for many Delta 8 products is directed at children or underage users.

The products can be sold in convenience stores in candy form and often take on fun shapes with colorful packaging. When the product is sold, there are no age or other purchase restrictions as there are with recreational and medical marijuana.

Consumption warnings are not usually included on the packaging to help users avoid excessive highs.

The law has three main points

SB 205 will allow CDPHE to introduce regulations for products such as Delta-8.

In addition, the bill aims to establish a task force that will begin investigating Colorado’s hemp industry in September. The task force’s findings will feed into possible legislation next year. It will also make recommendations to the Colorado Department of Revenue on what rules should be made.

Eventually, nearly $600,000 will go to the Colorado Attorney General’s office to focus on products like Delta-8 and general consumer protection for hemp products.

Before CDPHE and the Task Force can begin their work, Gov. Enact Jared Polis SB 205. Polis spokesman Conor Cahill said when the bill reaches the governor’s office, the governor will consider it.

Similar bills were introduced several times prior to the SB 205 but never adopted. Sederberg said the bill has seen numerous changes. He attributes this to an initial shock to those in the hemp industry, many of whom were unaware that products like Delta-8 were being made and sold. Drafting a bill that worked for both the marijuana and hemp sides of the cannabis industry took a lot of negotiation.

Sederberg said the original draft was stricter, but also included more protections for companies producing non-intoxicating, full-spectrum hemp products. He believes this was an opportunity for Colorado to “step out and be on top again” in the cannabis industry.

“Neither side is very happy with the bill that we have right now, but it does offer some level of clarity and a process to get more clarity,” he said. “Even if it’s not the level of leadership I was hoping for, it’s still a step in the right direction.”

To read more reports from Colorado Newsline, visit www.coloradonewsline.com.