However, that’s all changing with HF 100 and SF 73, allowing adults ages 21 and older to purchase up to two ounces of cannabis flower. Both bills are currently in the hands of lawmakers and are being rewritten as we speak.
The biggest change coming is clearer writing about how the cannabis market will interact with hemp-derived edibles. This is to directly address concerns many within the currently established hemp industry have.
“We have a lot of great hemp businesses out there that are doing great things, and we do not want to shut them down,” said Rep. Zack Stephenson, Coon Rapids DFLer.
The difficulty is that HF 100 is confusing. As discussed, it would allow for higher potency, marijuana-derived THC products. In turn, those who have a foundation within the hemp industry would be directly impacted.
Yet, exactly how this impact would occur isn’t clear. One of the most significant difficulties is the fact that “hemp” and “marijuana” are inevitably both cannabis. The term “hemp” is used merely as a way to identify a cannabis plant high in cannabidiol (CBD) and containing no more than <0.3% THC.
Therefore, in recreationally legal industries, the difference between hemp and marijuana is futile. Both produce cannabinoids which can be extracted for consumer use.
Still, not everyone is as concerned with HF 100 and its confusion. Namely due to the fact that it’s always been a work in progress. “I cannot specifically name any current issues with the bill, primarily because the bill was never ready for prime time,” said Shawn Weber, owner of Crested River Cannabis Co.
Lack of Proper Insight into Cannabis Leaves Bills in a State of Confusion
Weber continued his statements by discussing the fact that the initial drafts were authored by legislators and lobbyists who had little knowledge of this industry. Due to this, there were a number of flaws (namely, in the terminology) that only industry experts could point out. However, Weber is confident they are working on this.
“They develop an excellent case of amnesia and come back with the same written testimony,” Weber noted.
Leili Fatehi, a lawyer and lobbyist, furthered Weber’s confidence. “We’re going through the bill issue-by-issue and seeing if the language in the current version meets the realities of what we’re going to need in the market,” she said. “We want to build in enough separation there that it is very clear that they are not selling anything adult-use [recreational marijuana].”
To give you an idea of Fatehi’s efforts, she’s been working on ensuring Minnesota’s hemp industry has a separate license from the marijuana industry. In turn, they will still have the ability to deduct business expenses from federal income taxes—a privilege the recreational industry doesn’t have due to marijuana’s federal legality.
Another issue some had with these bills is the emergence of the Office of Cannabis Management. According to the bill itself, this office will be responsible for issuing “the necessary number of licenses in order to ensure the sufficient supply of cannabis flower and cannabinoid products to meet demand, provide market stability, and limit the sale of unregulated cannabis flower and cannabinoid products.”
This writing doesn’t indicate whether or not the Office would have a direct impact on Minnesota’s hemp industry. And the concern is that once the office is established, it can limit the number of hemp products already in circulation.
As of right now, there is no enforcement on Minnesota’s hemp industry. In fact, there are no concrete records of how many businesses make, distribute, or sell edibles. On top of this, there is no state licensing procedure.
“I don’t think their intention is to harm the industry,” said Steve Brown, chief executive officer of Nothing But Hemp in Minneapolis. But as sessions continue “and there haven’t been any amendments, that’s pretty darn scary for the hemp industry.”