A hemp crop waits to be harvested in Lincolnshire for British CBD oil producer Crop England on August 27, 2021, in Grantham, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
As Colorado lawmakers move forward with a bill that would strengthen the regulation of intoxicating hemp products, families whose children rely on CBD supplements are raising concerns over a potential amendment relating to dosage limits being weighed by the bill’s sponsors.
Senate Bill 23-271, which follows the Legislature’s creation of a task force last year to study intoxicating hemp products, would grant the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division the authority to regulate products containing a variety of hemp-derived compounds and cannabinoids.
In a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee hearing Tuesday, several members of the task force said that while they supported the bill as introduced, an amendment relating to packaging size limits would have serious implications for children who use CBD, also known as cannabidiol, to prevent recurring seizures.
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The bill’s sponsors — state Sens. Dylan Roberts, an Avon Democrat, and Kevin Van Winkle, a Highlands Ranch Republican — said they want to protect access to non-intoxicating products while setting up a regulatory framework to ensure intoxicating hemp products are being properly produced, tested, labeled and advertised.
“The intent of this bill is to put in some guardrails in Colorado — to recognize that there are non-intoxicating hemp products that serve a purpose and serve valuable health benefits to Coloradans of all ages, but there are also intoxicating hemp products that aren’t necessarily harmful to someone’s health, but should be labeled as intoxicating so that they are aware of the risk that they can undertake when they ingest that,” Roberts told the Finance Committee Tuesday.
The amendment in question on packaging and dosage limits has not yet been introduced, but bill sponsors said they planned to continue discussions with stakeholders about package limits while ensuring medicinal tinctures of CBD are exempt from these dosing regulations and would remain accessible.
“I think it is the intent of both the sponsors, if this bill moves to third reading, to have some upper level package limit or container limit for the non-intoxicating products,” Roberts said. “That is our intention, but we just didn’t find an agreement with all the various stakeholders by the time this bill was in committee this afternoon.”
Although hemp plants contain less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, the cannabinoids within hemp can be extracted and concentrated to create intoxicating effects similar to those of marijuana, and products with these effects are currently being sold without restriction.
At Tuesday’s hearing, multiple families shared stories of leaving their home states to move to Colorado, where access to CBD is protected, because they couldn’t access it in the states where they previously lived. Doran Schmidt said her daughter Sage had a traumatic brain injury due to medical malpractice when she was born, and had seizures consistently after that. Sage had been placed on a variety of pharmaceuticals that showed little to no effect, and by the time she was fourth months old, she was still seeing limited progress.
Doran said when Sage came to Colorado from Nebraska and started taking CBD, her seizures decreased drastically within just the first week and continued to decrease over the next six months. She remained completely seizure-free for two years.
“This product is not pot. This product is not a joint that I’m handing my 10-year-old. This product is a full spectrum, less than 0.3% THC product that couldn’t get you high if you tried,” Doran said. “If somebody’s intent is to be intoxicated, all they’re going to end up is disappointed and $250 poorer. This product is for somebody else, and that is who I need you all to think about and focus on as we make these steps into the future.”
Colorado a ‘model state’
Jared Stanley, co-founder and chief operating officer of Charlotte’s Web, a Louisville-based botanical wellness company that sells CBD supplements across the country, said the full-spectrum hemp products his company sells are ones that did not undergo any modifications from their natural state. This includes maintaining the natural ratios of CBD to THC, which in hemp plants can start at 15 to 1.
As a member of the task force looking into hemp products for the Legislature, Stanley said the two key recommendations were to limit hemp products to no more than 2.5 milligrams of THC per serving and require a CBD to THC ratio of at least 15 to 1. He said the purpose of these recommendations was to ensure there wouldn’t be intoxicating products on the market outside of dispensaries, which he said should counter the need for any packaging container limits. His company supports the intent of the bill, but wants to ensure CBD remains accessible for children with disabilities.
“The problem could work itself out as long as we stick to what’s currently in the bill and don’t amend it even further from where we’re at,” Stanley told Newsline. “If package limits come back in, we’re unclear how many or what, and package limits can be detrimental to consumers like our consumers and to hemp companies in the state of Colorado.”
This product is not pot. … If somebody’s intent is to be intoxicated, all they’re going to end up is disappointed and $250 poorer.
– Doran Schmidt, whose daughter takes CBD to prevent seizures
Three amendments did pass the Finance Committee, and more are likely to be considered as the bill continues to advance through the General Assembly. The first amendment removed “safe harbor” provisions from the bill, which would have allowed products produced in Colorado that are not permitted to be sold in Colorado to be sold out of state. Roberts said that is a “difficult public policy choice” for him, as he wouldn’t want to allow products deemed unsafe for Colorado to still be sent to other states to use.
The second amendment that passed added a definition for tincture, which Roberts said would be used in the future as bill sponsors work out exemptions for products like those created by Charlotte’s Web. It also lowered the threshold allowable for full spectrum hemp products from 2.5 milligrams of THC to 1.75 milligrams per serving.
The third amendment would create testing and labeling requirements for hemp products similar to those required for marijuana products. Van Winkle said he hoped to continue conversations on what these provisions will look like.
“The very basis of what we’re trying to do here, and what I think the bill does in large part, is ensure that if something is intoxicating, if it’s something that can get you high, that it is moved into the regulated market just like any other product in Colorado that can get you high,” Van Winkle said. “And if it’s something that is non-intoxicating, and can’t get you high, then it can continue to operate and sell as it has for decades in the state of Colorado.”
Stanley added that Colorado has always been “a model state” on cannabis and hemp policy, and therefore it is essential that Colorado “gets this legislation right.”
“We need a united industry front if we’re going to have a chance to make progress federally in Washington D.C.,” Stanley said. “If we can’t get our own home state right, how are we expected to go change federal law?”
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