Hemp industry facing potentially major changes

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 6:17 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Early in April of 2023, State Senator Stewart Cathey authored a bill, SB219, that would put large restrictions on the hemp industry. It would lower the total amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive ingredient that causes intoxication, allowed in hemp products from eight milligrams to two milligrams.

Senator Cathey claimed there was a misunderstanding of hemp products when it was originally discussed.

“There were a lot of things in the legislation that frankly, we didn’t necessarily completely understand. And legislators might have thought they were doing one thing but actually did another and so we’re just trying to go back and tighten some of that stuff up,” Cathey said.

Jason Garsee, owner of Str8w8 Cannabis and 318 Labz, said there was always transparency between the industry and legislation and still is.

“He knew exactly what we did. He knew exactly what we manufactured. Okay. There was no hiding and there was no misconception of what we did,” Garsee said.

Garsee said Hemp is a federally legal crop and everything they manufacture or produce is below 0.3% THC.

“Small business owners that have basically taken their life savings, or even savings of any kind, they’re gonna lose everything that the government has set up for them,” Garsee said. “Okay, and let them manufacture, produce, and sell these products and then one man comes in and guts the whole thing or guts the whole industry,”

Senator Cathey said the hemp products can get people high, but in the Senate Agriculture Committee meeting, Garsee explained that’s not the case.

“You see this? This is bud, it is less than 0.3% 0.3%. This does not get you high. Now, can we make products to make you relax? Absolutely. Out of this plant? Yes. We don’t put acid in our products. Crackheads do that, meth heads do that. We don’t do that,” Garsee said.

Garsee said the hemp industry has adapted time after time to regulations, but this bill would kill his company.

“Each year they clamp down and clamp down as far as changing the rules. And his bill restricts our industry so much that you will not be able to do business,” Garsee said.

Currently, manufacturers put the hemp plant through a machine to extract cannabinoids like Delta 8, 9 and 10. From there, they can regulate the amount of THC per product. According to Garsee, if the bill passes, people would have to ingest much more products to feel a calming effect.