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In 2018, Republicans accidentally legalized cannabis. Now 22 AGs want them to undo it

A coalition of 22 state attorneys general is calling on Congress to address the “glaring ambiguities” that lead legal cannabis products to store shelves across the country, sometimes in vending machines and online. There is.

a Letter dated March 20th Addressing the consequences of Republican lawmakers’ choice to legalize cannabis production The 2018 Omnibus Farm Bill — Decisions that perhaps inadvertently led to: Multi-billion dollar market The act of intoxicating cannabis products, which is probably federally legal.

Now, the attorney general is asking Congress to shut down the market he helped create. In the new farm bill, they hope Congress will codify the idea that intoxicating marijuana is not federally legal, contrary to current law.

In other words, we want Congress to say that, by definition, you can’t get high from marijuana.

The rise of a legal (and intoxicating) hemp market runs counter to the past decade’s development of a highly regulated, voter-approved recreational and medical cannabis industry. all over the country — the wild west of exotic cannabinoids sold without the strict controls of a formal legal market.

“Due to the ambiguities created by the 2018 Farm Bill, a massive gray market worth an estimated $28 billion has exploded, and regardless of states’ intentions to legalize cannabis use, products that do so are being forced into our economy,” the attorney general wrote.

The bipartisan coalition includes not only Red and Blue but also a diverse group of states, including states where recreational marijuana is legal (California, Hawaii), states where it is legal only for medical use (Pennsylvania), and states where it is fully legal. Representatives are gathering. Illegal (Georgia).

This includes some states (North Dakota, South Dakota, and Arkansas) where ballot initiatives for legal marijuana were defeated.

For example, the boom in intoxicating cannabis products, such as the ability to sell high-concentration isolates of cannabis’ active ingredients by mail, has had an impact on “regulation and consumption in states that already have adult-use legal cannabis programs in place.” “This dangerously undermines the protection of people in place,” they added.

That massive industry and current controversy is based on a petty legal question that in many ways contradicts biological reality. The law is based on the idea that there is a clear distinction between marijuana, which is intoxicating and highly regulated, and cannabis, which is none of the above.

In fact, they are the same plant. Cannabis is a hardy Eurasian species that has been historically prized for its use in fiber and textile manufacturing. It shares etymology with the word “canvas” and also its use as a medicinal or intoxicating substance.

That botanical overlap is reflected in the name of the plant itself.Some linguists argue that the words “hemp” and “cannabis” themselves are long branched version This is the same word that comes from the language of the ancient Scythian nomads of the Eurasian steppes. weave plants to make cloth and smoked from a container Similar to a modern bong.

The Greek historian Herodotus writes that the Scythians “took some of the seeds of this hemp plant…and threw them upon the red-hot stones,” releasing a vapor that caused them to “rejoice and shout with joy.” I am writing.

The chemical that caused that cheer was was also found The chemical contained in the 2,500-year-old ship from China is sometimes called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) “Noble Causer”

When the all-Republican Congress legalized hemp production in 2018 in the Farm Bill (which President Trump also signed), it effectively split the plant into two categories.

The first was plants that didn’t contain large amounts of THC (which they rated at 0.3 percent or more by weight) and plants that did.

While the former (cannabis) became legal, the latter (marijuana) remained in a strange legal gray area. It is federally illegal under the same drug classification schedule as heroin, and is available only in tightly controlled and heavily taxed markets in a growing number of states.

In these markets, cannabis sold for epilepsy or cancer symptom relief, or simply for recreational purposes, can have a 30 percent THC content by weight, which Congress mandated in the 2018 Farm Bill. 100 times more powerful than the very low limits we set.

But Congress left a wide leeway, which the attorney general described as a loophole in his letter.

It was a space that American industry was piling up to fill.

First, cannabis entrepreneurs said Congress had focused on the most common THC (called delta-9 THC, based on where the key carbon group is attached to the molecule), but that different carbon groups differ. We realized that there are other forms of THC that are attached to the position. Junction.

These versions, such as Delta-8, Delta-10, and Delta-11, are likely still legal, and an industry of edible products and beverages based on these products has started across the country.

Other entrepreneurs took it even further. In a subsequent innovation, the cannabis startup’s founders discovered that 0.3 percent delta-9 THC by weight is not enough to make a user who smokes it inebriated, but that kind of potency can be put into an edible. I realized that it was more than enough.

Currently, a standard commercial edible contains 20 milligrams of delta-9 THC. This is much less than 0.3 percent of the weight of 10 grams of candy, but still enough to get users high.

The attorney general argued that these products pose a significant risk, especially to children who could easily ingest candy containing dangerous amounts of THC. (National Poison Control Center Association 7,000 cases reported Despite the number of children brought in with acute THC poisoning, the majority of these cases did not cause long-term harm. )

They pointed out that the main cause of the problem is a lack of regulation, which allows vendors to sell counterfeit versions of popular candies.

“As hemp-based THC-infused products, especially edibles, grow in popularity, illicit suppliers are taking advantage of legitimate brand names and packaging to sell candies, snacks, and cereals that leave consumers intoxicated and confused. “We are beginning to do so,” they wrote. “These counterfeit hemp products are putting children at extreme risk.”

Finally, around 2023, the frontier of legal cannabis moved further forward. Enterprising vendors have noticed that Congress has banned cannabis “flower” containing more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC, but even intoxicating cannabis does not contain delta-9 DHC. I noticed that.

Instead, it contains delta-9 THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. This chemical is not addictive unless exposed to heat, at which point it converts to THC, which is addictive. (Thus, simply eating marijuana does not get consumers high.)

So, based on a strict interpretation of the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress not only legalized the cultivation of hemp fiber, but also legalized smokable and intoxicating cannabis, legal until a purchaser lights it. Met.

One online vendor states, “THCa is completely legal throughout the United States and contains less than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC, which is federally legal, according to the DEA.”

A study by the National Institute of Justice concluded that 92 percent of 53 “hemp” samples tested were originally narcotics based on levels of THC-related compounds. Classified as marijuana.

But that doesn’t mean these products are mislabeled or misdirected. Because it’s essentially the same plant, growers who start with cannabis varieties made for fiber can selectively breed them to levels that contain just the right amount of THCa.

The attorney general acknowledged that Congress should want to create a legal market for “non-intoxicating cannabis,” but said, “But the 2018 Farm Bill’s promise to create this agricultural market has failed.” wrote.

“Instead, cannabis-derived intoxicants are rampant across the state, posing serious threats to public health and safety, and benefiting unregulated, untaxed, and unaccountable market players.”

Lost taxes are especially significant. In 2022, states where marijuana is legal took in an estimated $3.77 billion in taxes on recreational and pharmaceutical sales.

The proliferation of unregulated hemp-based candies, concentrates, and sodas is something the legal hemp industry itself recognizes as a problem. A representative from the US Hemp Roundtable, an industry group, points out that the Food and Drug Administration: promised clear regulations for legal hemp Going back to 2019, this has yet to happen.

The Hill has reached out to the FDA for comment.

The Attorney General has expressed serious and legitimate concerns, as Roundtable Senior Counsel Jonathan Miller stated: told the Dallas Observer.

“But their solution is wrong,” Miller said. “We need regulation. The FDA needs to step in and start regulating hemp products like it promised to do five years ago. The answer is to ban these products and change the definition of hemp under federal law. It’s not about changing.”

The industry association is Encourage members to lobby Congress will “protect the current definition of hemp” and advance cannabis labeling regulations to protect children.

“The appropriate answer is not redefinition or banning. Regulation is needed,” the group wrote in a response to the attorney general.

“We have and will continue to advocate for measures that prioritize safety and responsibility without stifling industry growth. We must support them and ensure that regulatory decisions are based on evidence and fairness.”

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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