US (CO): Cannabis and hemp industries strike tentative deal over Delta-8 THC and modified cannabinoids

This state's hemp and cannabis businesses want Colorado to create a task force to smooth a rift between the two industries. Last month, a bill introduced in the Colorado Legislature would ban any intoxicating cannabis product that isn't produced by a state-licensed cannabis business or sold at a licensed dispensary. Colorado hemp businesses don't support the measure, saying that such blanket restrictions on cannabinoids are too much, too soon. Not all modified cannabinoid products are intoxicating, they argue, and some are geared toward medical use. The regulation of modified cannabinoids could involve some sticky measures on the hemp production side as well, according to hemp industry representatives.

Manufacturers of low-THC, high-CBD medications sourcing their cannabinoids from hemp instead of cannabis feel unfairly targeted by Senate Bill 205. There are also worries that banning modified cannabinoids outright or requiring hemp manufacturers to become licensed cannabis businesses could give this state's larger cannabis businesses a chokehold on two different industries.

A late amendment to SB 205 created something of a compromise by kicking the can down the road. Rather than calling for an outright ban on any hemp product deemed intoxicating, SB 205 now calls for a task force of officials from the Colorado Attorney General's Office and the state's departments of agriculture, cannabis enforcement, and public health, as well as hemp and cannabis industry stakeholders, to "study intoxicating hemp products and make legislative rule recommendations."

The amended bill passed its first hearing before the Senate Business Affairs & Technology Committee 4-0 on May 2 and is expected to be on the fast track during the legislature's final days. Both sides insist that this is a discrete issue and not a signal of battles to come between hemp and marijuana — but the SB 205 compromise certainly doesn't rule out conflict.

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