Senate Passes Bill Regulating Hemp Despite Outcry from Farmers, CBD shop owners


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HARTFORD — State lawmakers’ concerns about child safety overrode worries from hemp farmers that a bill aimed at closing a loophole would also hurt their businesses.

The bill, which would ban synthetic intoxicating compounds taken from hemp plants like Delta 8, passed the Senate by a 32-4 vote on Monday. It passed the House in May, and will now go to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk for his signature.

The bill would also limit hemp-based products sold outside marijuana retailers to 1 milligram of THC per serving and 5 milligrams per package, in an attempt to close a loophole in the 2018 federal farm bill that legalized hemp.

State Sen. James Maroney, D-Milford, said many lawmakers have heard complaints from constituents about products high in THC – the intoxicating compound in marijuana – being sold outside of licensed marijuana retailers, including at gas stations. 

Maroney said the story of a 4-year-old who died in Virginia last year after eating a large amount of marijuana gummies also raised concerns that children could be harmed by products sold at higher THC concentrations. 

But hemp farmers in Connecticut say the way the bill is written would also ban many of the non-intoxicating products they make and sell, and urged lawmakers to find another way to ban high-THC products.

State Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said he’s concerned about young people getting hooked on marijuana, but a hemp farmer in his district who sells non-intoxicating CBD products to help people with pain noted his items would also be banned by the bill. 

Kissel proposed an amendment that would have restricted products with a high THC-to-CBD ratio instead of basing the ban on milligrams of THC. That amendment failed.

However, Maroney said lawmakers are still looking to address concerns of hemp farmers and CBD store owners who have already made or bought currently legal products that will become illegal when the bill takes effect July 1. 

Because the legislative session draws to a close on Wednesday, senators decided against amending the bill as it would require the House to vote again. But Maroney said another bill was being amended to push the effective date of the new rules to Oct. 1, to give the affected groups time to adjust.

“Unfortunately, when crafting this legislation, we tried to think of as many different ways as we could that wouldn’t impact [hemp farmers], but would allow us to prevent selling those gummies, like the one that unfortunately killed the 4-year-old boy in Virginia,” Maroney said. “And so to make that line, to make it possible to enforce, we had to go along with these requirements.”