Minnesota Regulators and Police Discuss Closing THCA Hemp Loophole

Minnesota’s new recreational cannabis law has led to a regulatory gap in overseeing high-potency raw hemp flower, prompting a summit to address this loophole and seek clarity on enforcement responsibilities between state regulators and law enforcement.

Full story after the jump.

A perceived loophole in Minnesota’s new adult use cannabis law is set to be addressed in a summit later this week, according to a report from news outlet MinnPost. The meeting, convened by the state Office of Cannabis Management and the Department of Health, will bring together law enforcement and local government associations to discuss the unregulated sale of products portrayed as hemp that may contain high THC levels.

The ambiguity arises from the law’s description of regulated products, which includes hemp-derived edibles and beverages but omits raw hemp flower. Consequently, the Office of Medical Cannabis, currently overseeing the regulation until the permanent Office of Cannabis Management is established in 2025, lacks jurisdiction over raw hemp flower. This gap has allowed some hemp retailers and smoke shops to sell raw flower potentially high in THC without regulatory oversight or testing.

State law explicitly states that illegal cannabis sales are a criminal matter, with enforcement responsibility falling to local law enforcement. However, the new Office of Cannabis Management, when operational, will have the authority to take action against illegal sales, including confiscation, testing, and imposing civil fines. In the interim, the state is developing outreach initiatives to assist law enforcement with these issues.

Law enforcement agencies and retailers following the law are seeking clarity and intervention from either state regulators or local police to address retailers who are violating the law. However, they face challenges due to the technical nature of the issue, lack of resources for testing, and legal complexities. The federal regulations on these products are also under debate: despite a memo from the DEA stating that Delta-8 THC and other THC derivatives sourced from hemp are controlled substances, purveyors of these products claim they are operating legally under the rules put in place by the 2018 Farm Bill.

The situation has left many in a confusing in-between period where no clear authority or resources are available to ensure the safety of these products.

A legislative fix to include raw hemp flower under the Office of Medical Cannabis’ regulatory jurisdiction is being considered for the 2024 session. Meanwhile, the Minnesota cannabis community is awaiting guidance and hoping for a resolution.

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