Iowa and Georgia Expected to Join the Ranks of States Enacting Restrictions Against CBD and Intoxicating Hemp Derivatives

Iowa and Georgia Expected to Join the Ranks of States Enacting Restrictions Against CBD and Intoxicating Hemp Derivatives

With both state legislatures approving bills in the past few weeks, their respective Republican governors are expected to sign the tighter regulations into law.



The civil war between cannabis and hemp continues to rage across the United States as stakeholders on both sides attempt to affect legislation at the state level aimed at restricting the sales of products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids, most notably CBD and intoxicating hemp derivatives (IHDs) like delta-8 THC.


Following an eventful week in the world of hemp and cannabis that witnessed the Florida Supreme Court rule in favor of allowing an adult-use cannabis legalization initiative to appear on the 2024 ballot, as well as the veto of a bill designed to allow for legal and regulated recreational marijuana sales in the State of Virginia by Governor Glenn Youngkin (R), two more states appear to be joining the growing list of those seeking to highly restrict or altogether ban the sale of hemp-based items containing CBD and IHDs.


According to multiple media outlets, the state legislatures in Iowa and Georgia recently passed measures to enforce tighter guidelines and regulations regarding the polarizing and misunderstood hemp byproducts. And as with other traditionally conservative states, the Republican governors from both jurisdictions are expected to sign the bills into law, adding their names to an unsettling and growing list of states to severely restrict or ban the cannabinoids.


In Iowa, lawmakers passed Iowa House File 2605, which would implement an outright ban on synthetically produced delta-8 THC and similar lab-made intoxicating compounds and restrict the sale and use of naturally derived non-psychoactive CBD to individuals under 18 years of age.


The measure also limits consumable hemp products to less than 4 milligrams of THC per serving and 10 milligrams per package.


During the legislative debate process, State Sen. Dan Dawson stated that the bill was “desperately needed,” echoing the sentiments of his fellow lawmakers, many of whom had said they had no intention of legalizing IHDs when they passed the Iowa Hemp Act in 2019.


“There has to be some type of guardrails on here,” Dawson told the Des Moines Register.


"There has to be some type of guardrails on here."

- Iowa State Senator Dan Dawson (R)


However, not all Iowa legislators agree with the highly restrictive and industry-damaging approach. During a debate on the bill in the House last month, Democratic Representative John Forbes warned his colleagues of the measure’s potential “unintended consequences” for those Iowans who use hemp-derived products outside of the state’s regulated cannabidiol program, especially those individuals using THC or CBD to help them battle debilitating opioid addictions. 


“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.


"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."

- Iowa State Representative John Forbes (D)


In addition to the bans and restrictions listed above, the Iowa measure, which currently sits on Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk, would also:


  • Create civil and criminal penalties for businesses that sell consumable hemp without first registering with the state.
  • Allow the state Health and Human Services Department to confiscate non-compliant products from retailers.
  • Force retailers to attach warning labels to consumable hemp products.

The Georgia measure, Senate Bill 494 (SB 494), which is expected to be signed by Governor Brian Kemp, is much less restrictive than the Iowa legislation. SB 494 would not ban the sale of items containing IHDs. However, it limits the sales of those products to individuals over 21, including items containing CBD extracts.


The proposed Georgia legislation would also:


  • Update rules for licensing, certificates of analysis, inspection and testing, retail operations, and signage.
  • Prohibit hemp compounds from being used in alcoholic beverages and food, except for gummies or extracts.
  • Ban packaging that could be viewed as attractive to children.

The Iowa and Georgia scenarios represent the latest attempt by painfully unqualified and suspiciously motivated state representatives to grapple with the extremely popular and lucrative IHD market sector. 


With very little guidance from Congress and federal health regulators, most notably the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it has fallen to the states to develop regulatory guidelines for monitoring the safety and efficacy of the young and still burgeoning industry. 


However, with minimal resources to enforce these laws and regulations and several state court systems that rightfully view most of the statutes and restrictions as unlawful and, in some instances, unconstitutional, the result has often been chaotic for businesses, customers, and lawmakers. Until Congress steps in and provides clear and concise direction for all parties involved, the current state of an uneasy limbo will continue to persist.