Iowa Legislature Passes Bill To Cap Potency of Hemp Products

A bill to put a THC limit on consumable hemp products is headed to the governor’s desk after the Iowa Senate passed the measure on Tuesday.
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The Iowa state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill to cap the THC potency of consumable hemp products, sending the measure to the desk of Republican Governor Kim Reynolds for consideration. The legislation, House File 2605, was passed by the Senate by a vote of 31-18 after receiving approval from the Iowa House of Representatives last month.

If signed into law by the governor, the measure would amend the Iowa Hemp Act to cap the THC potency of hemp products at 4 milligrams per serving, with a maximum limit of 10 milligrams per package. The legislation also requires warning labels on hemp product packaging and sets a minimum age of 21 to purchase hemp products containing THC. Additionally, the bill adds new restrictions and sanctions related to the manufacturing, possession and sales of consumable hemp products, including penalties for businesses that sell such products without first registering with state regulators.

Republican Senator Dan Dawson, the sponsor of House File 2605, said the bill is “desperately needed regulation.”

“There has to be some type of guardrails on here,” he said, the Des Moines Register reported on Tuesday.

The senator said that the bill is needed to maintain separation between over-the-counter hemp products and those regulated by the medicinal cannabidiol (CBD) program, which was passed by state lawmakers in 2014 to legalize the possession of low-THC CBD products for medicinal purposes.

“The Iowa Hemp Act, or the program that we’re talking about here today, needs to be at a milligram usage less than our medical cannabidiol program, otherwise the lines are blurred,” argued Dawson, according to a report from online news source We Are Iowa.

“The medical cannabidiol program actually puts an individual with a doctor to get these products, that’s the biggest distinction,” added Dawson, the Capital Dispatch reported on Tuesday. “The Iowa hemp program has none of those barriers there. So if we want to protect Iowans with these products … there has to be some type of guardrails on here, to make sure that the medical cannabidiol program is the program that we can direct Iowans to when they have one of these diagnosed conditions.”

Lawmaker Warns of Bill’s ‘Unintended Consequences’

During a House debate on the bill last month, Democratic Representative John Forbes told his colleagues that he has concerns the bill will have “unintended consequences” for people who use hemp products outside of the state’s regulated cannabidiol program, including people who are using THC or CBD to help them recover from opioid addiction. 

“I think we’re not hitting the nail on the head here, when it comes to being able to help Iowans that are seeking out this as an alternative to maybe taking other prescription medications, and increasing quality of life, helping them,” Forbes said.

Forbes also noted that many CBD products come in formulations such as capsules with 2 to 4 milligrams of THC per serving. Under House Bill 2605’s provisions, such products would only be available in packages of two to five capsules, a restriction that many manufacturers would find overly burdensome. If the bill is signed into law, many consumers may find that the hemp products they are accustomed to purchasing may no longer be available in Iowa.

“It does have a major impact on, I think, the people here in the state of Iowa that sought out ways to manage their health issues,” Forbes said, according to a report from The Gazette. “A lot of the people that go to these do purchase them because they’ve been on chronic pain medications and they’re trying to reduce that.”

“This legislation will make it much more difficult for people in the state of Iowa,” he added. “They’re going to go out and buy this stuff online … they won’t have a business they can go into.”

In the upper chamber of the state legislature, Republican Senator Tom Shipley said that when he helped draft the Iowa Hemp Act in 2019, he knew that there were “some nefarious motives behind this,” including some businesses that had plans to sell products that were not covered by the law.

“We found out some people could find an angle to get around things and do things that are not good for Iowans,” Shipley said. “And I just want to stand up in support of Senator Dawson’s bill to try and close some of these loopholes that even I could figure out were coming.”

In addition to regulating hemp products that are being used by consumers therapeutically, supporters of the legislation said it is needed to help protect those who choose to use hemp recreationally. Dawson said the bill is “desperately needed regulation on this industry, to not only protect industry but also to protect the consumers who might indulge in these products.”

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  1. This must be why we see a lot of Iowa plates at our dispensaries here in Illinois. That legislation will surely fuel out of state purchases and bring much needed tax revenue to us.

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