The fact that a major marijuana and CBD advocacy group has come out against a bill to legalize the growth of hemp and the sale of CBD products in Louisiana should tell you a lot about it.
HB491 passed the Louisiana Senate by a vote of 34-2 on Saturday, but not before heavily amending the bill with a “tremendous amount” of regulations, according to Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain.
The six pages of amendments were championed by state Senator Francis Thompson (D-Delhi), the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee who describes himself as a skeptic of both CBD and hemp products.
Under the new regulations, CBD products can only be sold if they follow federal rules (which haven’t yet bet written), be registered with the state, meet strict labeling requirements, and several other conditions. The penalties for violation are severe.
“Despite countless efforts to amend HB491 (hemp bill) to protect CBD sellers in the state, we have no choice but to oppose this bill,” said Commonsense NOLA founder and president Kevin Caldwell. “It actually puts prison on the table for violations. We had hoped we could make this a viable bill, but it appears our adversaries came out on top.”
The bill also gives Strain broad regulatory control over the testing, regulation, and enforcement of industrial hemp production across the state. The legislation allows the Louisiana Department of Agriculture to conduct regular testing and random inspections to ensure that only trace amounts of THC are present.
“This is one of the most restrictive programs in the country,” said Sen. Bret Allain (R-Franklin).
The Louisiana House had backed the legislation before it was heavily rewritten in the Senate. If now must return to the House for consideration of the changes.
The legislative session ends on Thursday.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor whose work has been featured in publications such as The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_