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Hemp & CBD: what’s legal, what’s not?

July 14, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer (apeterson@esthervillenews.net) , Estherville News

In April, the Iowa Hemp Act passed the Iowa legislature with overwhelming support: the vote was 49-1 in the Iowa Senate and similarly one-sided in the House. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the measure into law May 13, 2019. The Act allows licensed growers to cultivate the crop on up to 40 acres.

At least 38 states considered legislation in 2018 after the federal government eased restrictions in the U.S. Farm Bill on commercial production. For farmers itching to plant hemp this season, though, the government put in a hold-your-horses caveat: the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture must finish a rule making session which will set guidelines each state's hemp program must follow. The federal government has said this will be done by the end of the year. After that, each state must submit their plan for approval. Only at that point can Iowa start a state licensing plan.

Farmers will be required to pay a licensing fee, pass a background check, and submit a planting report before they can plant. Before they harvest, the USDA must test a sample to ensure the hemp contains less than threepercent THC, the psychoactive element in the cannabis plant. State agriculture officials hope all this will be in place for Iowa farmers to plant in the 2020 season.

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Cannabidiol, or CBD oil is still illegal in Iowa, except for patients who have a prescription and have secured a CBD card through the Iowa Department of Health. Some patients and caregivers have wondered if hemp containing less than three percent THC is legal, then CBD products, as long as they also contain less than three percent THC are legal, too.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller recently released a statement that said, in a word, no.

Hemp comes from the stalk of the cannabis plant. CBD is a naturally occurring substance located in the flowering tops of the plant and to a lesser extent in its resin and leaves.

Miller's statement said the current definition of marijuana in Iowa law, "explicitly excludes 'the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, sale derivative, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant with is incapable of germination."

Miller said until the USDA approves Iowa's state plan, the legality of hemp does not become effective in Iowa.

"Until the coordinating amendments of the Iowa Hemp Act are effective, any product sold over the counter containing CBD or THC technically falls within the definition of marijuana and is considered a Schedule I controlled substance," Miller's statement said.

Hemp capsules, edible candies and other products intended for human consumption must comply with federal law.

Miller said the FDA's current position is that it is "illegal to introduce food containing CBD or THC into interstate commerce or to market products containing CBD or THC as dietary supplements."

Even when the Iowa Hemp Act becomes fully implemented and effective, these products will remain illegal under the newly enacted Iowa Code Section 204.7(9) and under Iowa Code Chapter 126, the Iowa Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.

The flowers, leaves and resin that are included in the state law's definition of marijuana.

Miller's statement said, "Iowa law places both marijuana and its psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), in Schedule I of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act."

This means any product containing any amount of CBD is considered a Schedule I controlled substance and is illegal to possess without specific dispensation. CBD also containing less than three percent THC manufactured and distributed by licensed dispensaries under the Iowa Department of Health's medical cannabidiol (mCBD) program has not changed under the Act and patients with CBD cards may still obtain CBD through this legal channel.

Law enforcement and state agencies, including the Department of Inspections and Appeals and the Alcoholic Beverages division "retain the authority and discretion to take criminal enforcement action against people who sell or possess over-the-counter CBD products," Miller said in the statement.

Miller added the Office of the Attorney General, his office, has the authority to take enforcement action against any person for false or misleading advertisements or deceptive sales practices.

 
 
 

 

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