Bill would set new limits on sale of ‘consumable’ hemp products in Iowa

DES MOINES — A bill to set new state limits on the sale of hemp-infused pills, food and beverages is eligible for consideration in a House committee.

The 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to grow hemp and a state law passed a year later allows the sale of non-intoxicating hemp products. The bill sets a significant penalty for selling hemp-infused products with high levels of T-H-C, the substance in marijuana that creates that high.

“We’ve seen an emergence of high potency, high THC products hit the market and, coupled with that, there are no age restrictions for purchasing these products,” said Josie Wagler, legislative liaison for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, which proposed the bill.

The bill would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy consumable hemp products in Iowa. Leslie Carpenter of Iowa Mental Health Advocates said research shows a higher incidence of psychotic disorders among teens who’ve consumed products with high levels of THC.

“I fully support medical marijuana,” Carpenter said during a House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. “It’s the high potency THC products and that currently a child can walk into a store and purchase them that makes me very concerned.”

Scott Booher, who operates Four Winds Farm and Apothecary in the Amana Colonies, said he makes non-psychoative products and the bill lumps him in with bad actors. “Some of these people who are creating high THC products need to be held accountable in a different way,” Booher said, “maybe not with people who have low THC products.”

Another hemp grower said he got state permission to produce hemp as a food ingredient on January 31 and this bill attempts to ban it.

Rachel Gulick, who owns House of Glass in Des Moines which sells consumable hemp products, drew applause from some in the packed Capitol meeting room when she told lawmakers the bill is designed to favor the state-licensed businesses allowed to grow, manufacture and sell medical marijuana in Iowa. “It seems to me that we are trying to monopolize the industry for a very specific, private interest,” she said.

The Republican lawmakers who advanced the bill say “intoxicating hemp products” are being sold and served in Iowa and it’s time for legislators to act.