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Friday Headlines: Neb. AG Ramps Up Delta-8 Crackdown; GOP Lawmaker Refiles Marijuana Reform Bill

Nebraska officials filed lawsuits last week to stop retailers from selling hemp-derived THC products.

The intense political maelstrom surrounding the issue of whether hemp and its derivative products should be legal in the state of Nebraska increased the pressure on hemp retailers last week. According to multiple local and national media outlets, the state’s Attorney General, Mike Hilgers, filed several consumer-protection lawsuits in his continuing crusade to crack down on sales of items containing hemp-based cannabinoids like delta-8 THC.

The suits are targeting specific delta-8 THC retailers in 10 counties. Along with the filings, Hilgers warned about the alleged risks of the items in question. He also expressed his concerns about the potentially harmful effects of the chemicals contained in the products sold to underage youths.

“We have retailers who are selling chemicals to kids – THC-containing products – to children and to Nebraskans around the state. These are mislabeled, they are untested, and they are dangerous,” Hilgers said.

"We have retailers who are selling chemicals to kids – THC-containing products – to children and to Nebraskans around the state. These are mislabeled, they are untested, and they are dangerous.”

- Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers

Currently, neither medical nor adult-use marijuana is legal in Nebraska, meaning low-dose hemp-derived THC products were the only types of intoxicating items available to Nebraskans before the state-led clampdown on hemp products. Authorities began the process of going after hemp retailers earlier this year with a series of raids on companies allegedly selling products containing more than the state’s 0.5% THC threshold.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana is making a third attempt to place the issue on the November 2024 ballot for voters to decide. They must collect 87,000 verified signatures by July 2024 for that ballot initiative to occur.

A Republican-led cannabis legalization effort re-emerges in the tumultuous U.S. House of Representatives.

One week after the circus surrounding the selection of a new Speaker of the House, a small group of GOP-led lawmakers is attempting to resurrect a previous legislative effort to lift the federal ban on marijuana. As first reported by MJBizDaily, a bipartisan group of House legislators led by Rep. Nancy Mac (R-SC) resubmitted a measure to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), effectively ending prohibition.

Mace reintroduced the States Reform Act last week when her office refiled a bill “to amend the Controlled Substances Act regarding marihuana.” The legislation, which currently has no text and serves as a placeholder of sorts, has four co-sponsors in the House: Democratic Reps. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and David Trone of Maryland, as well as Republican Reps. Tom McClintock of California and Matt Gaetz of Florida.

In Mace’s previous cannabis reform bill, introduced in November 2021, marijuana would have been removed from the CSA, and a 3.75% federal excise tax imposed on all sales. Most of the other issues related to regulation would have been left to the discretion of individual states.

The refiling of the reform measure comes as no surprise to Capitol Hill insiders. However, Mace’s involvement in the House Speaker drama created massive complications, leading to a much longer delay than most observers had expected.

Adding more confusion to the entire process is the new Speaker’s staunch opposition to legalizing adult-use marijuana at the federal level. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) is an uber-conservative Christian and has voted against every cannabis reform measure during his time in Washington.

However, there will be no business to address, marijuana-related or otherwise, until Congressional leaders pass the necessary spending bills to avoid another government shutdown on Nov. 17.

Once lawmakers approve the necessary legislation to keep the government operational, other more pressing issues like the Farm Bill, the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, and the economy will all take precedence over any cannabis legalization reform. Mace’s choice of when to refile her bill is both odd and perplexing to many of her fellow congressmen and women, much like the circus that Congress has become.

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