Iowa Brewers, Retailers Cry Foul at State’s New Hemp Law

The law will not only impose potency limits, but also a minimum age of 21 to buy such products.
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A new law in Iowa governing hemp products has drawn complaints from local brewers and retailers, with some even threatening legal action.

The measure, which was passed by Hawkeye State lawmakers in April and signed into law by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds last month, “prohibits the sale and possession of consumable hemp products that contain greater than 4 mg total THC per serving and greater than 10 mg total THC per container within the state of Iowa.”

As the state’s Department of Health and Human Services explains, Iowa’s medical cannabis program, which launched in 2018, “allows individuals with certain eligible conditions to access medical cannabis at five retail dispensaries,” as well as “the use of medical cannabis in four forms: oral (including tinctures, capsules, sublingual, and tablets), topical (including creams and gels), inhaled forms (including vaporized), and suppositories.”

But as the Des Moines Register points out, the proposed rules written by the department define “closed-container beverage” as “one serving per container — meaning every beverage with a potency of more than 4 mg of total THC would be banned from sale.”

According to the newspaper, local brewers in Iowa “argue that’s not what the law intended, and they warned that the rules could mean major cuts to their products,” and a “major manufacturer said if a resolution was not reached, it would consider legal action.”

“Only one of our products would be compliant, and we would lose products that account for about 80% of our sales,” Lua Brewing and Big Grove Brewery CEO Dave Moore told the Des Moines Register. “We would also have a very large inventory of finished goods and packaging materials that would no longer be usable. This ruling would have severe financial implications to our business.”

Moore’s brewing companies sell a THC-infused beverage that he says would be hurt by the new law.

“If we can’t find an amicable resolution that allows businesses to continue operating within the parameters set forth in the statute, we will take legal action as a last resort to protect our interests,” Moore added. “Again, we believe that we can work this out with HHS and the state without going through a legal process.”

When she signed the bill into law last month, Reynolds made it clear that she was uneasy about certain parts of the measure.

“I have concerns about this bill and have heard from individuals and groups on both sides of the issue,” said Reynolds. “Ultimately, I am signing it into law to protect minors from dangerous and intoxicating products. At the same time, we’ve taken steps to ensure that children who are resistant to medications and suffer from seizures and other medical conditions continue to have access to consumable hemp alternatives for relief.”

The bill was submitted to the Iowa legislature earlier this year by the state’s Department of Public Safety. 

“We’ve seen an emergence of high potency, high-THC products hit the market,” Josie Wagler, the Department of Public Safety’s legislative liaison, said at the time. “And coupled with that, there are no age restrictions for purchasing these products. So really the purpose is to get at that, and to give HHS and law enforcement some additional tools to help regulate these highly intoxicating products.”

The sale of the products was made possible by the legalization of hemp in the Farm Bill that was passed by Congress in 2018. That law prompted a number of other states to follow suit and draft their own laws governing the sale and cultivation of hemp-derived products.

But lawmakers said earlier this year that the reform led to some unintended consequences.

“We thought we were dealing with the intoxicating aspect, only to find out that there are ways to get around that,” state House Rep. Steve Holt, a Republican, said in February. “So it’s sort of the wild, wild west out there in a lot of ways, with THC-infused drinks being able to be served to minors, a lot of other things going on that are not acceptable.”

But the proposal inspired opposition from Iowa business owners and hemp growers from the beginning.

“Let’s look at what needs to be taken care of instead of just sweeping everybody under the rug,” Scott Booher, the owner of Four Winds Farms, told lawmakers at a hearing earlier this year. “We have patients that are kids, we have parents that buy our hemp products for their children. For ADD, for behavioral problems.”

The Des Moines Register reported this week that “breweries [in Iowa] have been in contact with HHS since the release of the draft rules, but it remains to be seen whether changes are made.”

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  1. Kids are the biggest pawn in this stupid chess game.
    You dont want kids accessing these products, but you want them to have their own bank accounts, social media accounts, etc.
    American government is a sick and ill failure these days. Lie about anything you want, just make sure you mention kids or race and nobody cares.

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