Attorney Generals Band Together to Close Cannabis Loophole

( – A coalition of 22 Attorneys General called on Congress to reverse legislative ambiguity that has effectively caused the federal decriminalization of cannabis. The group says “glaring vagueness” about the lawful position has caused a market to emerge in which intoxicating cannabis products are sold freely.

In a letter dated March 20, the Attorneys General noted that the 2018 Farm Bill led to the “proliferation of intoxicating hemp products” nationwide and that “bad actors” exploited the legal status of hemp to introduce products “that are nothing less than a more potent form of cannabis, often in candy form.” It went on to state that this market is unregulated.

The Farm Bill of 2018 legalized hemp production, and the attorneys now urge Congress to explain the definition of hemp and clarify the federal legal status of intoxicating cannabis, particularly in light of national and state disunity on the issue. The Farm Bill is due for reauthorization in 2024, and the attorneys want lawmakers to address federal legal confusion in a renewed draft.

Hemp and cannabis plants are of the same species, and the two words are often used interchangeably. The level of THC, the active element of cannabis that causes a “high,” is much lower in hemp than in cannabis, at just 0.3% or less.

The Farm Bill classifies plants with a THC level of 0.3% or under as lawful. Plants with a level above that range are subject to the Controlled Substances Act – where they are classified as Schedule I drugs with a high potential for abuse. Experts say the law is vulnerable to abuse, and the status of cannabis in some states, where it can be used recreationally even though it’s illegal under federal statute, adds to nationwide confusion.

Addressing the constitutional conflict, the “Cole Memo” of 2013, issued by the Department of Justice, reminded states that cannabis is illegal, but federal prosecutors would not pursue enforcement unless states failed to regulate the drug’s use sufficiently.

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