Regulation for hemp-derived CBD products approved by subcommittee

Published 3:45 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

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The General Assembly’s Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee has approved a regulation dealing with hemp-derived cannabinoid products to go along with legislation passed by lawmakers earlier this year, and an executive order issued by Gov. Andy Beshear.

The issue was brought to light in August 2022, when a Boone Circuit Court judge entered a permanent injunction prohibiting the Kentucky State Police from taking any criminal enforcement action against a person in possession of certain products containing delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol.

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Three months later, Beshear issued his executive order, which stated in part that there are no requirements currently applied to delta 8 products, and that the requirements that exist for packaging and labeling of CBD products sold in Kentucky should also apply to delta-8 products, to ensure the public’s protection.

During the 2023 session, lawmakers unanimously passed House Bill 544, putting the executive order and the court ruling into law, and requiring the enactment of a Kentucky Administrative Regulation by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for implementation.

Katelyn Wiard with the U.S. Hemp Roundtable testified that she appreciated changes made in the proposed regulation, but still had some concerns. Among them, assigning an “Adult” designation to any product that doesn’t have a ratio of at 25:1 of non-intoxicating CBD to THC.

“Only one state in the nation employs a 25:1 ratio,” she stated. “And that state’s law was the product of an intense lobbying campaign by marijuana interests.”

Another concern is a $200 fee for each hemp product, which she says would be a financial burden to businesses. She requested eliminating or lowering the fee, implementing an annual fee for retailers or restructuring the per product fee.    

Jim Higdon, co-founder of Cornbread Hemp, told the panel he agreed with Wiard’s concerns, but had one more.

“If these regulations become final as currently written,” he said, “the hemp industry will be regulated by two entities, CHFS and the Department of Agriculture. This double regulation could become confusing or contradictory, especially since the two entities are run by constitutional statewide office-holders of different political parties.”

The current regulation, which has been revised on at least two occasions, is designated as “Emergency,” and will remain in effect until April 27, 2024, when a final version, known as “Ordinary” in legislative parlance, must be approved by the committee. It can still be amended before final action.