Farm Bill could field regulations for growth of cannabis derivatives

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With the SAFE Banking Act and other cannabis legislation stalled in Congress, cannabis reform advocates are looking to the Farm Bill as a possible avenue for cannabis reform.

The 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp production is up for renewal this session, and it’s high on lawmakers’ lists because its passage unwittingly unleashed a monster — a boom in products containing intoxicating cannabinoids like Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, according to a Feb. 21 report at

Delta-8 and Delta-9 are forms of THC. Along with CBD, they’re derivatives of the hemp plant. But unlike nonintoxicating CBD, Delta-8 and Delta-9 can produce effects similar to a marijuana high, including euphoria, altered perception and relaxation, as well as side effects including anxiety, increased heart rate, red eyes and slowed reaction time. Overdoses can pose health risks and have sent people to hospital emergency rooms.

Delta-8 and Delta-9 products are illegal in Colorado under a Marijuana Enforcement Division rule that bans “chemically modifying or converting any naturally-occurring cannabinoids from industrial hemp. … This includes any process that converts an industrial hemp cannabinoid, such as CBD isolate, into delta-9, delta-8, delta-10-THC, or other tetrahydrocannabinol isomers or functional analogs.”

But these products are readily available online throughout the nation, and ambitious chemists are coming up with even more hemp-derived compounds.

A growing public outcry about edibles and tinctures containing intoxicating cannabinoids has lawmakers concerned, and the Farm Bill could provide an opportunity to curb the availability of these products.

But it also could be a path forward for cannabis reform measures that include the SAFE Banking Act and regulation of the CBD industry, which also developed after passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Although the 2018 bill doesn’t expire until September, discussions about updating its provisions already are underway.

Hemp producers are lobbying for an increase in the permissible content of THC in hemp products, which currently stands at 0.3 percent, before they are considered marijuana. According to the MJBizDaily report, they’re seeking an increase in the limit to 1 percent.

The Farm Bill is a sweeping piece of legislation that also regulates subsidies to farmers and the SNAP food assistance program.

But cannabis producers and vendors are hoping that the new version will provide clarity on which cannabinoid-containing products are permissible in the marketplace and how they must be labeled.

420 on 4/20

The Mile High 420 Fest will return on Thursday, April 20, to Denver’s Civic Center Park, but unlike in previous years, the festival will strictly enforce an age limitation and won’t admit cannabis lovers younger than 21.

The event celebrates the unofficial stoner holiday, which many associate with the anniversary of pot legalization in Colorado.

But according to TIME magazine, the 420 reference has deeper and older roots.

Several origin stories about 420 have been advanced over the years, but a TIME report published April 19, 2022, tracks the most credible story to Marin County, California’s San Rafael High School.

According to TIME’s account, five students at the school would meet at 4:20 p.m. near a campus statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to smoke weed. They chose that time because people participating in extracurricular activities usually had cleared out by then.

Dave Reddix, one of the fearless five, who did their toking in defiance of much tougher enforcement in those days, told TIME in 2017 that the group used “420” as code for marijuana.

Reddix later worked as a roadie for the Grateful Dead, and the band helped popularize “420” as a reference to pot in the Bay Area.

In 1990, TIME reports, a group of Deadheads in Oakland printed up flyers that promoted a 420 smoke-in at 4:20 p.m. on April 20. One of the flyers made its way to High Times magazine, which printed it in 1991. The magazine continued to use the number and credited the Marin County high schoolers with inventing the term.

This year’s Mile High 420 Fest, which organizers claim is the biggest event of its kind in the world, will feature musical performances, food trucks, vendors, “experiential activations,” a Cannabis Community Experience Expo for dispensaries and vendors, and a communal smoke at 4:20 p.m., according to the event’s website, (Festival-goers should be aware that Denver police and city officials frown on public cannabis smoking.)

General admission is free, but attendees will need to get a ticket through Eventbrite and show it at the gates. VIP tickets, available for $175, include a specialty viewing area, private entrance, a private cocktail bar and two free drinks, sponsor gifts, air conditioned restrooms and exclusive entry to the Cannabis Community Experience Expo at the McNichols Civic Center Building.

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