BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana is restricting the sale of almost all smokable hemp products. The state’s Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, recently signed ACT 344/HB 843 into law. The new legislation sets penalties for anyone selling or possessing smokable hemp products with the exception of hemp rolling papers. CBD infused foods and beverages also are not permitted under the act, keeping the state in line with federal guidelines.
Violators may face a fine of $300 for a first offense and up to $1000 for a second offense. Anyone with additional convictions will face up to $5000 in penalties. The bill provides authority to the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to issue stop orders to businesses and allows the commissioner of alcohol and tobacco control to issue fines for violations.
The move comes as Louisiana officials continue to revamp the state’s cannabis and CBD laws. Legal analysts believe banning smokable hemp will help law enforcement avoid having to determine the difference between cannabis flower and hemp and will limit delays and additional costs incurred by sending confiscated flower for lab analysis.
The new law also provides regulations for the state’s industrial hemp program. ACT 344/HB 843 outlines licensing requirements, application and permit fees, testing regulations, product labeling information, and rules regarding hemp research.
Louisiana has spent the better part of 2020 fine-tuning its industrial hemp program. State officials began issuing hemp licenses in February. All hemp and CBD products must not exceed the threshold of 0.3 percent THC. Any products found to include more than 0.3 percent THC will be subject to destruction by government agencies.
Hemp is seen by many as a potential cash crop for farmers struggling financially. It is a versatile plant that can thrive even in less than ideal weather conditions.