The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) has issued an interpretive statement regarding the conversion of hemp-derived CBD into delta-9 THC by licensed adult-use cannabis processors, according to the Cannabis Observer.
The statement, which was drafted by WSLCB staff in consultation with council from the Washington State Attorney General’s office, hinges on the safe harbor doctrine, the legal term describing the practice of allowing for the production and distribution of a federally prohibited controlled substance (cannabis). The statement says under state law only licensed cannabis producers, or growers, are granted safe harbor for creating Delta-9 THC, not cannabis processors.
Specifically, the new interpretive statement says, “producer and researcher licenses allow for the production of ‘marijuana’ products exceeding 0.3 percent THC concentration.”
“The statutes do not authorize a licensed processor to source hemp-based product, such as legal CBD, and convert it to delta-9 THC, regardless of the method of production, nor are they licensed to process hemp into marijuana concentrate,” the agency said in the statement. “As ‘conversion’ activity is not an identified privilege, it would not fall under the safe harbor protections.”
Justin Nordhorn, director of policy and external affairs at the WSLCB, confirmed that processors are “not afforded safe harbor for the activities of creating delta-9-THC.”
“Only licensed producers may grow cannabis for that purpose. Processors are allowed to purchase Delta-9-THC from a licensed producer, but not create their own.” – Justin Nordhorn via Cannabis Observer
The statement was made in response to a June 16 meeting of the Special Board Caucus at which Board Member Russ Hauge raised concerns that licensed processors were synthesizing delta-9 THC from hemp-derived CBD.
Going forward, the WSLCB said they will use an education-first approach but the agency’s Director of Enforcement, Chandra Brady, said staff “can use administrative holds, warnings, notice to correct” for licensees who do not “get on the path to compliance.”
Over the past several months, in an effort to address the emerging delta-8 and hemp-derived synthesized delta-9 phenomenon, the WSLCB has held two deliberative dialogs on cannabinoid chemistry and started a THC rule-making process, according to the report.
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