May 2, 2024 - News

Iowa cannabis retailers await guidance on new hemp restrictions

Illustration of a marijuana leaf with bites being taken out of it until it's gone, and then growing back.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Businesses that sell or manufacture consumable hemp in Iowa are in a "stressful" waiting period as they look for guidance on new legislation that's expected to affect their sales, says Angela Caulk, a lobbyist for Hemp Inc.

State of play: In Iowa, lawmakers are tightening rules for the industry, which has grown since the Iowa Hemp Act first legalized it in 2019.

  • Lawmakers recently passed a bill to cap THC in products to 4mg per serving and 10mg per container.
  • The proposal, which is awaiting Gov. Kim Reynolds' signature, also prohibits sales to anyone under 21.

Zoom in: Nick Iversen of Climbing Kites, a CBD/THC beverage company, says he do not expect the bill to affect sales in Iowa.

  • The brand plans on changing its labeling to comply, he says.

Friction point: The bigger impact could be for retailers who sell products like gummies, which typically contain more than 10mg per container, Caulk says.

  • Local hemp shops have shared concerns that THC caps could result in a "major dent" for their businesses.

The fine print: Because of the bill's ambiguous language, it remains unclear what is considered a serving size versus a container, though Caulk believes a container could be considered a drink can.

What they're saying: The bill has helped "legitimize" Iowa's consumable hemp industry in some ways "because prior to that, it seemed kind of wild west," says Jeff Bruning, co-owner of Full Court Press, who sells Climbing Kites.

What's next: Reynolds is expected to sign the bill, which would take effect July 1.

Between the lines: While rules like the age limitation are expected to immediately become law, Caulk predicts the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services will spend more time on guidance for specific servings and container language.

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