iHemp Michigan recently became aware of a state legislative effort to curb the unregulated availability of hemp-derived products containing Delta 8 compounds. This bill package, led by House Bill 4517, has now received its first hearing May 18 in the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.
We are the state’s leading industrial hemp trade association, representing hundreds of growers, processors, manufacturers and others engaged in Michigan’s budding hemp economy.
We fully support the stated effort behind this legislative package. We recognize the unregulated processing and sale of hallucinogenic products presents a potential danger to the public.
However, we also want to share our concern that this effort could inadvertently result in moving the regulatory oversight of industrial hemp from its current home with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
As members of the committee consider how to get a concerning derivative product off the shelves of convenience stores, we urge them to not lose sight of the bigger picture. Around the world, this plant is used to make everything from fiber to fuel to paper products, clothing, plastics, animal feed and more. It can help our state’s manufacturers reach sustainability and carbon sequestration goals as they incorporate it in the production of everything from car bumpers to cardboard boxes.
What Michigan’s industrial hemp industry needs most right now is support to bolster hemp refining infrastructure. Manufacturing leaders around the state are bringing hemp into their research and development labs, and while they like what they see, they are trying to solve the question of how to ensure steady supply of refined materials.
Industrial hemp is a commodity crop. It begins in a farm field, and it is appropriately regulated by MDARD – an agency that understands farmer’s challenges and priorities and how to help them meet both market and regulatory goals.
iHemp Michigan’s membership is strenuously opposed to any legislative effort that places production of a crop in the purview of the same industry that oversees recreational and medicinal marijuana. While these may appear to be similar products, they absolutely are not.
Any regulatory shift from MDARD would create not only prohibitively large fee structures, but it would effectively end the interest in farming this crop in Michigan before the industry has a chance to really get started.
We urge lawmakers to move carefully as you work to eliminate unregulated Delta 8 products from the marketplace. There is much at stake in this conversation.