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Minnesota CBD industry prepares for fight to keep hemp extracts legal

Updated: Dec 27, 2021



From CBD tinctures to delta-8 gummies, Minnesota regulatory agencies are shifting the rules on what's legal when it comes to hemp extracts and derivatives. The CBD industry is preparing to push back, reports the Star Tribune.


For the last few years, Minnesota hemp companies have been making and selling cannabinoid extracts made legal by the 2018 federal Farm Bill and related state-level statutory changes.


But state agencies appear to be changing their interpretation of the rules.


“The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy says many CBD products sold in the state are illegal,” Brooks Johnson wrote for the Tribune, “and it wants the Legislature to change the state's approach to the marketing and sale of the popular hemp products.”


Even before this news, hemp retailers were seeing a change in enforcement under the state’s Department of Agriculture. The Minnesota-based shop Superior Cannabis received a cease-and-desist order Nov. 15 for selling CBD edibles. The business’s president, Jeff Brinkman, told the Tribune he’d had to pull 38% of inventory and profits were plummeting.


Hemp, its extracts and derivatives are legal under federal and Minnesota law. However, the federal Food and Drug Administration hasn't created a framework for regulating hemp extracts sold as food or dietary supplements. This has kept CBD, delta-8 and other cannabinoid products in a regulatory gray area.


Citing FDA guidelines, the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy wrote in a staff analysis issued Dec. 8, "the sale of products that contain cannabinoids or tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), extracted or indirectly derived from any type of cannabis plant, remains illegal under federal and Minnesota state law, with certain exceptions."


Cody Wiberg, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, told the Star Tribune his agency is asking the Legislature for policy changes that would create a legal structure for some cannabinoid products.


"We've actually been trying to make some of these products legal at the state level, even though they are illegal under federal law," he said. "We just want to make sure there are protections and standards in place."


As for delta-8 and delta-10 THC, Johnson reported that the pharmacy board hopes to ban them. These compounds are molecular kin to the most abundant form of naturally occurring THC, delta-9, and have a similar psychotropic effect. Unlike delta-9, they are sourced from hemp and aren’t currently prohibited at the federal level or in Minnesota.


The Board of Pharmacy has drafted a bill for the Legislature to consider in 2022.


Hemp retailers see the agency's rule changes as an existential threat.


“We disagree with their interpretation based on federal guidelines,” said Steven Brown, who sits on the board of the Minnesota Cannabis Association and co-owns Nothing But Hemp.

“Eighty-five percent of products on the shelves will have to be pulled. This affects so many businesses. So many families. Our business will probably have to shut down in Minnesota if we don't turn this around.”


“Eighty-five percent of products on the shelves will have to be pulled. This affects so many businesses. So many families. Our business will probably have to shut down in Minnesota if we don't turn this around.”

– Steven Brown, Minnesota Cannabis Association board member, co-owner of Nothing But Hemp



The Minnesota Cannabis Association said it’s “considering options to save Minnesota farmers and Minnesota businesses that sell CBD/hemp derived products.”


Jason Tarasek, an attorney and the founder of Minnesota Cannabis Law, told the Star Tribune that industry leaders are proposing their own legislative solutions. They're also weighing whether to take the issue to court.


"I've had CBD retailers calling me in tears because they've built their lives around this, and now they're pulling the rug out," he said. "We're also pushing legislation to fix this, and we are considering proactive litigation to remedy some of these interpretation problems."

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