ST. LOUIS – It’s no surprise that people listening to musicians cover Grateful Dead and Phish songs in October at a dive bar here want to try a new drink that contains delta-9. THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient of weed.
What’s different is seeing a bartender – in this case, Pop’s Blue Moon’s Joshua Grigaitis – grab bottles of drink and hand them to customers without looking over his shoulder inside recreational pot seems to be legal, for now. Missouri voters will decide whether to repeal the law on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“It contains 10mg of the good stuff, which is less than .3%. It means it can be bought almost anywhere!” Grigaitis posted on Facebook last month when he announced the latest product from his cannabis-based beverage company Mighty Kind: hemp-derived delta-9 THC seltzer in “cherry blossom” or “lemon heady.”
Grigaitis thinks he’s on legal ground for selling seltzer because it’s made from hemp, not marijuana, two plants from one. Cannabis genus. However, he labels the cans with the percentage of THC by volume, which refers to the federally approved limit for hemp, and hopes to inspect his products.
But to release his drink in the crowded market for medical treatment and the use of marijuana – it will be illegal at the level of taxes and regulations at the level of the state – Grigaitis thinks there is a loophole in the state’s hemp law that he can. Buy a product that offers the look of a report on its site, online, and anywhere.
In this way, he said, hemp delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol products have “the potential to change the entire drug industry.”
Grigaitis isn’t the only one who knows there’s a chance. Some 120 brands are selling hemp-derived delta-9 products online, according to an April survey published by CBD Oracle, which reports on the industry.
But others in the drug industry are concerned about interference and are seeking federal legislation to prevent people from selling hemp products outside of dispensaries. They say some of the products are not safe because it is easier for small children to access the products from pharmacies. And they are usually not under the watchful eye of government regulatory systems. Critics also say the products would violate the intent of a 2018 federal law that removed hemp from the controlled substance list.
“Pharmaceutical and recreational drug businesses are highly regulated to the point where they still hold credentials, passports, driver’s licenses at these dispensaries,” said Eric Wang, vice president of sustainability for the US Hemp Roundtable, a Kentucky trade association. group.
But, he said, a 12- or 13-year-old can legally buy a hemp product.
When the caucus passed the 2018 Farm Bill, the announced plan was to help struggling farmers by allowing them to grow industrial hemp. The law means that people can buy CBD across state lines. CBD has become a multi-billion dollar industry.
At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky who sponsored the legislation, said of hemp that “everybody knows this is not a plant.”
The first difference between marijuana and hemp is that hemp has very little THC. Federal law states that it cannot contain more than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight.
Grigaitis argues that his delta-9 hemp drink is legal because the amount of THC in the drink is less than 0.3% by weight of liquid.
“It’s backed by my lawyers, my testing labs, my insurance, my bank — everything,” said Grigaitis, whose Mighty Kind drinks appeared in the recent Kevin Smith film “Clerks III.”
Its hemp-like delta-9 is made from one of two methods: extracting the cannabinoid from the hemp plant itself or through a chemical change in the CBD from the hemp that is dissolved in in metal, Grigaitis said. The company is investigating both methods to determine the pros and cons of each, he said.
Because the source is hemp and not marijuana, he sees a clear way to sell his products beyond dispensaries, where there are many regulations and taxes, so profit margins are narrow. Why does he buy it in a pharmacy, he asked, “you can go next door to a CBD store, a vape shop, a grocery store or a bar and buy it wealth?”
But some in the industry disagree with Grigaitis’ interpretation of the federal law. Dry weight percentage refers to the amount of the plant, not the drink, said Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the Hemp Roundtable.
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) has introduced legislation to amend the 2018 law with additional restrictions on hemp products. Pingree spokeswoman Victoria Bonney said the council was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen states have passed laws banning the sale of another hemp substance, delta-8, which is intoxicating but not as potent as delta-9. But countries have been slow to catch up with these new medical products.
Miller hopes parts of Pingree’s legislation will be included in the 2023 Farm Bill, as the 2018 bill expires next year. The roundtable seeks legislation to limit the amount of THC in the finished product, not just the plant, and to ban the sale of intoxicating hemp products in the adult-use market. , like a pot pharmacy, says Miller. The group wants to be like alcohol.
The organization includes board members from some of the largest companies in the adult drug market, including its president, Pete Meachum. He is an employee of Cronos Group, a Canadian drug company of which Altria is the largest shareholder, a maker of Marlboro cigarettes, and an investor in Juul. Meachum declined an interview request.
“Anything that threatens the independence of the regulated market will be a concern for those who participate and invest in it,” Grigaitis said.
But Miller said with the state’s new laws, hemp products “will be available anywhere you can buy marijuana products, so it’s a level playing field.”
Other industry groups and the National Organization for Marijuana Regulatory Reform have also called for the FDA to regulate hemp products.
Meanwhile, fans of Pop’s Blue Moon don’t seem worried about the lack of rules and are excited to try Grigaitis’ new seltzer. Harper Britz, a 21-year-old working in the music industry, said she got the best news from seltzer. He likes that he can taste cannabis.
“The smell comes to the nose, like when you smell wine,” said Britz, who lives in St. Louis. “If only I could drink this every day.”
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