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Iowa Governor Signs Bill To Regulate Hemp Products

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On May 17, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed 20 bills prior to the end of the legislative session. One of which was House File 2605, which establishes regulations regarding hemp-derived consumable products that contain THC.

The passage of HF-2605 includes new restrictions and penalties applied for hemp-derived consumable sales, manufacturing, and possession. Now, such products may only contain 4 mg of THC per serving, or 10 mg THC per container on a dry weight basis, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch. It also requires that warning labels be adhered to those products, which can be sold to adults over 21, and prohibits the use of synthetic THC.

Many people reached out expressing their opposition to the bill, and called for Reynolds to reject it. Prior to signing HF-2605, Reynolds explained that she considered both sides of the argument for and against the bill. “I have concerns about this bill and have heard from individuals and groups on both sides of the issue,” said Reynolds. “Ultimately, I am signing it into law to protect minors from dangerous and intoxicating products. At the same time, we’ve taken steps to ensure that children who are resistant to medications and suffer from seizures and other medical conditions continue to have access to consumable hemp alternatives for relief.”

In early April, HF-2605’s floor manager, Sen. Dan Dawson, explained that the bill is a necessary update to the Iowa Hemp Act. “The medical cannabidiol program actually puts an individual with a doctor to get these products, that’s the biggest distinction,” Dawson said. “The Iowa hemp program has none of those barriers there. So if we want to protect Iowans with these products… there has to be some type of guardrails on here, to make sure that the medical cannabidiol program is the program that we can direct Iowans to when they have one of these diagnosed conditions.”

In March, Rep. John Forbes expressed concern for the possible “unintended consequences” for patients who rely on hemp-based medicine that’s not included in the state medical cannabis program. “I think we’re not hitting the nail on the head here, when it comes to being able to help Iowans that are seeking out this as an alternative to maybe taking other prescription medications, and increasing quality of life, helping them,” Forbes said at the time.

During that same meeting, Sen. Tom Shipley, who helped create the Iowa Hemp Act when it passed in 2019, said he saw opportunities for loopholes. However, he was more than happy to support HF-2605 as a way to improve upon the current act. “We found out some people could find an angle to get around things and do things that are not good for Iowans,” said Shipley. “And I just want to stand up in support of Senator Dawson’s bill to try and close some of these loopholes that even I could figure out were coming.”

Following Gov. Reynolds’ approval, many others welcomed the new regulations. “This has created a lot of awareness about these products, and it’s put things in place that were necessary,” said Alec Travis, owner of the Iowa-based brewery Field Day Brewing, which offers THC-infused beverages. “Having a small cap while people get used to these products is probably good.”

Earlier in February, House Study Bill 665 was introduced, which would give the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services the ability to regulate consumable hemp products. “We thought we were dealing with the intoxicating aspect, only to find out that there are ways to get around that,” said Rep. Steve Holt. “So it’s sort of the wild, wild west out there in a lot of ways, with THC-infused drinks being able to be served to minors, a lot of other things going on that are not acceptable.” The bill has not received any further hearings after February 19. 

Similar hemp regulations are also being pursued by other states, such as Georgia. Earlier this month, Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 494, which “makes changes to the framework for hemp regulation in Georgia to allow the Georgia Department of Agriculture to have greater oversight and enforcement power and adds labeling, packaging, and marketing requirements to protect children from misleading and dangerous marketing.” 

At the signing ceremony, Kemp explained that hemp cultivation is rapidly growing. “The vast majority of the jobs and the vast majority of the investment that have been created by these great private-sector companies … have been located outside the metro-Atlanta counties, creating opportunities for Georgians to succeed no matter what their zip code,” Kemp said.

Additionally, Kemp signed Senate Bill 420 as well, which prevents a “foreign adversary” from owning agricultural land. “As valued members of our state’s number one industry, Georgia’s farming families deserve our enduring support as they face unprecedented challenges, including having to navigate disastrous federal energy policies, attempts by foreign adversaries to acquire farm land, and theft of property,” Kemp said. “We are tackling these challenges head on, and I want to thank our legislative partners for their work on these important issues.”

On May 17, GOP House representatives recently published a 942-page draft version of the 2024 Farm Bill. Although still a work in progress, the draft currently includes a revision of the word “hemp” and provides numerous separate categories to label cultivators growing hemp for the purposes of animal feed, fiber, or non-food-based production of grain, seed, or oil.