California’s Controversial Hemp Bill

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The California Senate Committee on Appropriations has signed off on a controversial hemp bill, sending the measure for a vote before the state legislature. The committee met yesterday afternoon to consider Assembly Bill 45 (AB45), which critics have said would be devastating to California hemp interests.

The appropriations committee approved a proposed $2.5 million in funding to support implementation of the bill.

California hemp stakeholders have said the measure, which would put hemp under the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), adds a number of confusing new rules affecting hemp up and down the supply chain. Opponents claim the restrictions in the measure are the result of lobbying by marijuana interests that are looking to disadvantage industrial hemp.

Hand of Big MJ
“The entire bill is crafted by outside lobbyists paid by big marijuana corporations working with HRT and the California Hemp Council, which have created a multi-million dollar bureaucracy,” said Chris Boucher, CEO at Farmtiva, a hemp ag services company and CBD consultant who also serves as a board member and treasurer at the Hemp Farmers Guild. The Guild; Stop AB45, a web-based movement against the measure; the California Hemp Association; and the National Hemp Association also oppose the bill.

AB45 would ban the sale of flowers and smokable hemp products while creating a bureaucratic mess for farmers, manufacturers and retailers. Unclear language in the bill could bring restrictions on all hemp products, critics have also warned.

The California Department of Food & Agriculture would join with BCC in oversight of the state’s hemp program under AB45, which would also outlaw CBD vapes and pens, hemp in beer, wine or spirits, and alcohol-based tinctures.

Other devilish details
Among other key proposals, AB45 would:

Require manufacturers and retailers to be licensed, and to share information with law enforcement and the BCC – similar to rules guiding marijuana in California.

Designate “hemp extract” and “industrial hemp raw extract” as “not for consumer use” but nonetheless require those derivatives to be tested for unspecified “derivatives.”

Create an authorization process for hemp manufacturers “who produce specified products that include industrial hemp or who produce raw hemp extract,” and authorize fees of $1,000 per company to support such a program.

Establish marketing, sanitary and safety and sales regulations for food and cosmetics.

Set requirements for laboratories that analyze hemp and hemp products.

Establish an Industrial Hemp Research Fund to support research at the University of California.