Wyoming Legislative Panel Advances Delta-8 THC Ban

A key Wyoming legislative committee last week voted to advance a bill that would ban hemp products with substances that have psychoactive properties such as delta-8 THC, despite reservations from some members of the panel that the bill has shortcomings. The bill, which seeks to ban psychoactive hemp products, was approved by the legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee on November 6 by a vote of 8-6.

The advancement of the bill comes despite reservations expressed by some members of the committee, including Republican committee co-chair Representative Art Washut, who said the bill was “not ready for prime time,” according to an article from the Wyoming Business Report.

“I made it a point in the past to support legislation coming out of committee that is ready for prime time,” Washut said. “We need a bill that we’re really comfortable with, and, unfortunately, I don’t think we’re there.”

The other co-chair of the Joint Judiciary Committee, Republican Senator Bill Landen, agreed that the bill will likely be amended before it comes to a vote by the full legislature.

“I don’t have any doubt that this is a work in progress,” said Landen. “But I like the fact that this would at least be a step in what I think is a necessary direction.”

If passed as currently written, the legislation would prohibit the addition of synthetic substances or other additives to hemp products. The bill would also prohibit the production and sale of hemp products with more than 0.3% THC, while expanding the definition of THC to include similar “psychoactive” substances including delta-8. 

In testimony to the committee, Shane England of the Hemp Industries Association told lawmakers that they should not change the definition of hemp from the one contained in the 2018 Farm Bill, which defines hemp as cannabis plants with no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight. He warned against attempts to enact a total ban on THC, which he said “is a definition that hasn’t stood up in a single court case.”

The intent of the bill is to ban products with added or synthesized delta-8 THC. But delta-8 THC can also occur in trace amounts in hemp, making a total ban on the substance problematic. At the last meeting of the committee, officials from the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation told lawmakers that there was no way for the DCI lab to test the difference between what was natural and what was synthetic.

Representative Ember Oakley, also a Republican, noted that the committee has been working on the bill since April, hearing testimony from the state crime lab, representatives of the hemp industry and law enforcement. She told her colleagues that enacting a ban on delta-8 THC is an important step for the legislature to accomplish. 

“In the end, the concept isn’t that difficult,” Oakley said. “This closes a hole that we’re hearing about delta-8 being abused, and, specifically, from younger people.”

Lawmakers Express Reservations

Democratic Representative Ken Chestek noted that the word “psychoactive” was not defined by the bill and suggested the lack of a clear definition could cause problems down the road.

“I’m thinking about somebody who says ‘I use CBD because it helps me relax.’ Is being relaxed psychoactive?” Chestek asked.

Brian Fuller of the state’s Legislative Service Office said that Chestek had raised a valid question, noting that there is currently no definition of the term “psychoactive” in hemp statutes that are already on the books. Senior Assistant Attorney General Kellsie Singleton agreed that a definition of “psychoactive” would help clarify which substances are included under the expanded definition of THC. 

“We did look at some case law to see if there was something out there,” Singleton said. “The closest thing we could find was ‘impairing a person’s physical or mental functioning.’”

Some committee members thought the ambiguity of the legislation could lead to unintended consequences, including a potential ruling that the ban would apply to CBD products.

“If for one instance I feel this bill is going to prohibit CBD … I’m not voting for it, and I’m guessing most everybody on the committee is not going to vote for it,” said Republican Representative Barry Crago.

Before voting the advance the bill, the committee heard testimony from interested parties, including stakeholders in Wyoming’s hemp industry. Paul Yohe of The Green Room in Casper, Wyoming said that the bill was “too broad.” He suggested that lawmakers focus on regulating THC in products instead of prohibiting THC completely.

“With more regulation comes more accountability – then we’ll be able to actually see what people are using in their products,” Yohe said.

Marcus Jones, the operations manager for Plant Hemp Co., said that delta-8  hemp products have helped his customers deal with anxiety, depression and sleep issues.

“We’re going about this all the wrong way,” Jones told the committee. “We should be regulating packages, how much of the psychoactive components can actually be in a product, instead of banning a product completely that has proven now over two years to help quite a few of Wyoming citizens with their ailments.”

The committee’s vote sends the bill to the full legislature, where further amendments to the measure are expected.

The post Wyoming Legislative Panel Advances Delta-8 THC Ban appeared first on High Times.


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