Debate over CBD laws sparks at La. State Capitol

Lawmakers in Louisiana voted on Thursday, April 20, to advance a bill that would make changes to the state’s current law on CBD products.
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 5:16 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 20, 2023 at 6:23 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Lawmakers in Louisiana voted on Thursday, April 20, to advance a bill that would make changes to the state’s current law on CBD products.

HB 605 by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, would add restrictions to both serving and packaging sizes while also giving regulators what they need to keep tabs on products and their retailers. What it does not do is change the current THC limit of 8mg per dose.

“The big thing is making sure that if LDH follows the intent of the law, then you’re gonna have a safe product out there,” said Rep. Schexnayder.

But that is different from SB 219 by Sen. Stewart Cathey Jr., R-Monroe, which looks to roll the industry back by lowering the THC limit to 2mg per dose or less. It is something those in the business say would have severe consequences for them.

“I’m not blaming anybody; we’re not mad at anybody, but not just my business, every business in this state is struggling right now,” said Jason Garsee, president of Gulf South Hemp Association. “A lot of these people have taken their life savings and invested in this industry.”

Those who testified Thursday said Schexnayder’s bill allows them to keep their businesses running. They also believe it will stop products that are too potent from getting the stamp of approval from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

“So, we went back and tightened up what the LDH’s requirements are. We put more responsibility on ATC and that’s what my bill does,” added the Speaker.

But it is the potency of these CBD products that has lawmakers split and debating what kind of consumable products are legal, as in how they’re packaged and served, particularly in regard to Delta-8 and Delta-9 products, which contain enough THC to give the user an effect.

“I don’t think anybody up here wants any business to go out of business,” said Rep. Laurie Schlegel, R-Metairie. “I think everyone’s expressed that. But I also think that in some of the hearings, we also expressed we didn’t want products that make people high on the market.”

Sen. Cathey and others in recent days have said they felt misled into supporting Speaker Shexnayder’s hemp bill last year, saying they were under the impression they weren’t legalizing products that were psychoactive.

“I mean, we have an age requirement, we do everything that is required to make sure it’s safe, so we’re in a good spot,” explained the Speaker.

Both of these bills are still jumping through hoops on different sides of the legislature and many in the business are going to be watching closely to see what happens next.

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