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Hemp Alert: Florida, South Carolina & More

Hemp's Future: Uncertain

The hemp landscape is a perpetual state of flux as state legislators and regulators around the country continue to grapple with the emergence of federally legal THC and its various isomers—an unexpected but logical result of the language of the 2018 Farm Bill. Keeping up with new restrictions and regulations is now a constant game of whack-a-mole; new potential threats to the industry seem to pop up daily. Luckily for the players involved, money talks—and with revenue from these products now likely in the billions, the industry is well equipped to push back and advocate for reasonable regulation in place of prohibition. Read on for the latest developments.

 

South Carolina: A Step Towards Clarity and Support

 In January, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued a letter, advising hemp industry members that the FDA’s prohibition on adding THC or CBD to food products meant that certain hemp derivatives were not approved for food or beverage incorporation. Products such as non-sterilized hemp seeds, pure CBD isolate, and various THC compounds were listed as not compliant. However, certain hemp products like hulled hemp seed, hemp seed protein, and hemp seed oil received GRAS notices and were approved as food ingredients. The guidance also clarified the use of ‘full spectrum hemp oil/extract,’ detailing its labeling and THC content requirements for legal use in the state’s food and beverage market.

However, in a promising turn of events, DHEC has revised its stance, issuing a new letter at the end of February that is significantly more favorable to the hemp industry. This move indicates a shift towards supporting the development of the hemp sector, with regulations that aim to foster growth rather than hinder it. Local companies like High Rise Beverage Co. have resumed production, signaling a positive turn for businesses operating within the state. This development is a testament to the state’s recognition of the potential benefits and contributions of the hemp industry to the local economy.

Georgia: Upholding Industry Standards

In Georgia, a groundbreaking $150 million federal racketeering lawsuit has been filed against leading California cannabis brands STIIIZY and Cookies, along with 12 other entities, accusing them of selling marijuana products mislabeled as federally legal delta-8 hemp goods. The class action, initiated by Georgia resident Hannah Ledbetter, alleges these companies engaged in a scheme to distribute marijuana under the guise of legal hemp, containing the federally permissible limit of 0.3% delta-9 THC or less. This lawsuit highlights a significant breach of trust and legal compliance, as the products in question were found to contain delta-9 THC levels far exceeding legal limits, based on third-party testing. This case not only underscores the importance of rigorous product testing and accurate labeling but also serves as a critical reminder for business owners in the cannabis and hemp industry to ensure their products fully comply with federal and state laws to avoid legal repercussions and protect their business integrity.

 

Florida: Industry Faces A Major Setback

 Florida business owners: Prepare for significant changes in the hemp industry with the upcoming enforcement of Senate Bill 1698 on October 1, 2024. This pivotal legislation redefines the legal framework for hemp and hemp extract products, emphasizing strict ‘total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration’ limits, effectively banning THCA products exceeding these thresholds. Additionally, it imposes a 5mg per serving and 50mg per package cap for hemp-derived delta-9 THC products. The bill also introduces rigorous packaging and labeling standards to safeguard consumers, especially children, against misleading products. Staying compliant with these new regulations is crucial for your business’s continuity and legal integrity. Begin updating your business practices immediately to ensure compliance with these regulations, safeguarding your business’s future in Florida’s evolving hemp industry.

 

South Dakota: Senate Passes Strict Regulations

 South Dakota business owners in the hemp industry should be aware of the impending legal changes introduced by House Bill 1125, which significantly impacts the production, sale, and distribution of hemp and hemp-derived products within the state. This legislation specifically

prohibits the chemical modification or conversion of industrial hemp compounds into other cannabinoids, such as delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, delta-10 THC, or any tetrahydrocannabinol isomer, analog, or derivative, aiming to curb the sale of psychoactive substances under the guise of hemp products. Importantly, the bill clarifies that naturally derived and extracted cannabinoids, including delta-9 THC, that do not exceed the 0.3% by dry weight limit, remain compliant for sale and consumption. This distinction ensures that ingestible products like beverages or gummies containing naturally extracted cannabinoids within these legal thresholds can still be legally marketed and sold, provided they do not result from chemical processes altering their molecular structure. Business owners should prepare for these changes by ensuring their products align with these legal requirements, focusing on natural extraction methods and compliance with THC concentration limits to maintain their market presence in South Dakota’s regulated hemp landscape.

We will continue to follow these developments, state by state, as they arise. Check back with us weekly for more updates.

By Jeff Beverly & Nick Zavakos of Know Naturals.

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