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State Attorneys General Rally for Congressional Action on the Unregulated Hemp Market Crisis

A collective of state attorneys general from both major political parties is urgently calling on Congress to intervene and manage the growing public health concerns posed by the rapidly expanding market for psychoactive hemp products.

This appeal comes in the wake of the 2018 farm bill's legalization of hemp, initially celebrated as a boon for the agricultural sector. However, the landscape has since shifted, with the market now being overrun by unregulated, intoxicating hemp-based products, frequently sold in casual retail environments like gas stations and convenience stores.

This bipartisan concern, articulated in a letter spearheaded by Indiana's Todd Rokita and Arkansas's Tim Griffin, both of whom are Republicans, also garners support from prominent Democrats such as California's Rob Bonta and Colorado's Philip Weiser. The letter, addressing the leaders of the agriculture committees in both the House and Senate, warns of a burgeoning "crisis" as these potent, often youth-targeted products circulate without sufficient oversight or regulatory controls.

The push for congressional action emerges against a backdrop of legal struggles at the state level, as legislators and regulators grapple with the unchecked proliferation of these products. The result has been a spate of legal challenges from hemp businesses and inconsistent court decisions, complicating enforcement efforts. Arkansas, for instance, experienced a legal setback with a federal judge blocking a state law aimed at curbing the sale of intoxicating hemp products.

The attorneys general are advocating for significant amendments in the upcoming farm bill, suggesting a redefinition of hemp to address the loopholes currently exploited by the market. They emphasize the need for clear congressional guidance that empowers states to regulate and limit the availability of hemp and its derivatives, aiming to resolve the confusion and regulatory gaps that have arisen from the initial federal definition of industrial hemp.

By calling for these legislative changes, the attorneys general seek to establish a uniform national framework that protects consumers, particularly minors, from the risks associated with these potent and unregulated substances.


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