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Louisiana Lawmakers Reject Proposed Ban On Intoxicating Hemp Products While Approving Some Restrictions



“I know there are a lot of you in this room who smoke weed… If you don’t vote against this, I think you’re being a huge hypocrite.”

By Greg LaRose and Wesley Muller, Louisiana Illuminator

A proposal to do away with edible hemp products in Louisiana has fizzled in the Legislature, sparing an industry that has blossomed since bungled legislation legalized it two years ago.

On the House floor Friday, members attempted to find a happy medium on Senate Bill 237 by Sen. Thomas Pressly, R-Shreveport, which would have led to the demise of some 2,000 hemp-related businesses that have taken root in Louisiana since 2022.

Rep. Laurie Schlegel, R-Metairie, offered compromise amendments to the Pressly bill that would have required all intoxicating ingredients be taken out of hemp products. Prevailing arguments were made in support of jobs and companies the hemp industry has spawned in Louisiana.

“I know there are a lot of you in this room who smoke weed, who ingest weed,” Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, said in opposition to Schegel’s amendments. “If you don’t vote against this, I think you’re being a huge hypocrite.”

The amendments failed, 39-60, and Pressly’s bill foundered without being brought up for a House vote.

Later Friday on the Senate side, members approved House Bill 952 by Rep. Dustin Miller, D-Opelousas, which would place several restrictions on the types of consumable products that can contain hemp and the amount per serving of THC, the same psychoactive compound found in marijuana that gets users high.

Intoxicating hemp-infused beverages would no longer be served at bars and restaurants, and hemp gummies and other snacks would be limited to 5 mg of THC per serving size, down from 8 mg.

Hemp products have become readily available in Louisiana, but Senate amendments to Miller’s bill would prohibit their sale at convenience stores and gas stations. They would still be available at truck stops, however.

The Senate approved the updated bill in a 37-1 vote. The House still needs to OK senators’ changes to Miller’s proposal, but Pressly doesn’t intend to revive his bill before the legislative session ends at 6 p.m. Monday.

Calls for stricter regulation of hemp products came from the medical marijuana and alcoholic beverage sectors, which view the fledgling field as a competitor.

State lawmakers unwittingly approved a bill in 2022 to allow the manufacturing and sale of hemp-derived products. The author of the bill, then-House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-French Settlement, had incorrectly assured legislators there wouldn’t be enough THC in hemp gummies, drinks and other edibles to get anyone high.

Gaps in the legislation permitted makers of hemp edibles to cram multiple servings into their products in order to pack more of a THC punch inside each container or package.

The hemp industry has also put its scientific expertise to use to make its products more desirable. Manufacturers have found a way to convert cannabidiol (CBD), a separate chemical found in hemp that doesn’t produce a high, into a THC extract using simple chemistry. They then concentrate it into drinks, gummies and other edibles.

This story was first published by Louisiana Illuminator.

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Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.

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