New Hemp Amendment Puts Cannabis Industry at Risk

hemp

Due to marijuana’s illegality at the federal level, politicians nationwide are invariably drafting different legislations to try and bring some structure to the industry. But while these attempts are an effort to ensure cannabis products are safe for consumption, with the way the laws are introduced, they sometimes end up hurting small businesses and American hemp farmers. 

The latest course of action comes from Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois, who introduced an amendment in May that alters the definition of hemp to “only include naturally occurring, naturally derived, and nonintoxicating cannabinoids.” 

“Put simply, the Miller amendment would shutter almost all hemp businesses that sell any consumer products as anything made from CBD with even detectable THC would be eliminated, which includes topicals and tinctures that are vital products for some consumers,” explains Cantrip CEO Adam Terry. 

It also risks industrial hemp on the face of how the language is written based on potential THC content, since the language is not clear enough to properly define “industrial” away from other products, according to Terry. The amendment may also very well diminish the total market demand for hemp to the point of non-existence, since industrial products alone are not enough for farmers to make a profit.

The Impact on State-Legal Markets

While the Miller amendment will impact small businesses and hemp farmers, Terry notes that it will largely not impact dispensaries. 

“This has been proven true in Colorado, where — despite a ban last year on most hemp cannabinoid products — dispensaries are still shuttering left and right,” he says. “The ‘state-legal’ markets are over regulated and designed for control, not scale, and so it is natural that they would struggle once price and supply normalize.”

Terry uses liquor stores as a comparison: “No liquor store would be able to survive with the overhead presented by overregulating state-legal cannabis, and now that dispensaries are seeing price and margins more akin to most consumer goods retail businesses, they are struggling.” 

Rescheduling and passing the SAFE Banking Act are some of the only ways to effectively help state-legal businesses.

Bracing for the Miller Amendment Impact

Terry advises hemp businesses to get involved politically and lobby together for your right to exist, as well as for consumer safety regulations that are consistent with state-legal cannabis standards. 

“Preparing yourself for a long, slow death licensing a brand to an MSO or a quick death at the hand of a Chapter 11 are really the only two other options here,” Terry says. “This amendment is designed specifically to kill what is currently a $30 billion industry in the United States. There’s no real preparation for that.”

While Miller’s amendment was introduced as a way to regulate hemp products, there are better ways of doing so. 

“What we need is sensible dosing limits for delta 9 THC, restrictions on which cannabinoids can be sold and how they are created, taxes that can fund the enforcement of these rules and new research on the subjects at hand,” Terry mentions. “There need to be requirements for testing and unified packaging, labeling and serving size standards. All of these things could create a thriving marketplace, eliminate frankenstein cannabinoids, restrict sales away from children and put them in the hands of distributors and retailers.”