Louisiana House Bill 843 outlines penalties for the sale or possession of smokable hemp products, as well as food, beverages, and alcoholic beverages containing CBD. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has signed these CBD limits into law.
Louisiana Among the First to Legalize Industrial Hemp
Last June, Louisiana opened its industrial hemp program, but a year later, banned CBD in foods and alcoholic beverages and all smokable hemp products despite growing evidence that CBD helps with a variety of conditions just as ADHD or autism management. The Louisiana legislature is waiting until the FDA approves CBD as a food additive.
Louisiana joined Ohio and New Jersey as the first three states to receive federal approval for its industrial hemp production plan. The application process for hemp farmers and handlers in Louisiana opened in February.
Federal law allows not only states, but also territories and Native American tribes to regulate hemp production, in their jurisdictions, but only with the approval of the USDA. One of the regulatory requirements is a plan on how to destroy any hemp exceeding the federal THC limit of 0.3%.
“Our industrial hemp program administrators worked hard to make sure the regulatory structure was in place as soon as possible and in time for the 2020 planting season,” Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said.
New Rules Establishes CBD Limits
House Bill 843 lays out new regulations for growing industrial hemp in Louisiana, as well as new regulations on hemp-derived products, including those containing CBD.
The new regulations clarify:
- Hemp and CBD definitions.
- Application and permit fees.
- Licensing requirements.
- CBD product labeling rules.
- Hemp research and development.
- Inspection and testing for hemp crops and products.
- Outlines a framework for the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee.
The new regulations establish fines for those who violate the new hemp regulations, including the sale and possession of smokable hemp products as well as food and beverages containing CBD. The fines range up to $300 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for the second offense and subsequent conviction. A third offense could cost up to $5,000.
The commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, which has the authority to license businesses to sell CBD products, now has the authority to issue these civil fines.
The new regulations also allow agricultural regulators in the state to issue stop orders to businesses that are not in compliance. A stop order would forbid any further sale, processing, movement, or distribution of hemp plants or their parts. Businesses not in compliance have up to 30 days to comply and petition for a release of the stop order. Hemp businesses not in compliance are being subjected to fines and penalties.
Despite the burdensome regulations and CBD limits, the Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control board indicates that 1,500 businesses have filed the necessary paperwork to sell products containing CBD. Those businesses range from pharmacies, health food stores, CBD shops, and clinics, to gas stations. You can also buy CBD products online. One vendor which we were able to confirm that it ships CBD oil to Louisiana is nuleafnaturals.com.
Growing Pains for Louisiana’s Burgeoning Hemp Industry
This year’s hemp harvest will be the first for Louisiana’s hemp production. Before this, Southern University and the LSU AgCenter were the only two producers in the state allowed to grow hemp, and only for research purposes. Currently, there are 74 licensed hemp growers in the state. The first hemp grower’s license was granted to Nanette Noland, the president of the Powell Group. The Powell Group is an investment company that owns a few agricultural businesses.
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the regulatory agency for industrial hemp production, began distributing licenses on February 20, and the first hemp crops were planted in mid-April to early May. Likewise, there are 16 licensed hemp seed producers in the state.
Meeting the regulatory requirements for a Louisiana hemp license is a long and drawn-out process. Likewise, the government oversight of growing industrial hemp is intense.