Hemp and CBD take big steps toward legalization in Louisiana
BATON ROUGE - Louisiana state lawmakers are working to reverse a decades-old ban on hemp which has caused confusion and outrage among consumers of popular hemp-derived CBD products.
Nearly every member of the Louisiana House of Representatives voted Tuesday evening for a bill that would regulate hemp cultivation and CBD oil processing. Hemp-derived CBD products would remain illegal in Louisiana until the United States Department of Agriculture approves the state's proposed regulations, said the bill's sponsor Rep. Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales).
"I think this is a big step forward to help people understand what CBD oil and hemp are," he said.
Hemp is in the same species of cannabis plants as marijuana but with only trace amounts of the intoxicating THC chemical. Research on the therapeutic benefits of the CBD chemical is limited but it is considered to be non-psychoactive with little side effects.
CBD products have become popular in Louisiana, like across the country, since the federal government legalized hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. CBD products are still considered a Schedule I narcotic in Louisiana even though law enforcement, in general, has not cracked down.
Deputies did arrest a Lafayette CBD store owner in April, confiscating dozens of products off his shelves. The Lafayette Sheriff's Office said Travis DeYoung, owner of Cajun Cannabis, had products that contained THC and CBD, but would not confirm with WBRZ Tuesday the percentage of THC.
DeYoung's attorney, Michael Domingue, told WBRZ Tuesday the confiscated products were the same items being sold at other stores in the area. He said his client was singled out for his bold marketing and public statements which emphasized the cannabis nature of his business.
Louisiana is not the only state grappling with the legality of CBD. According to reports, several people have been arrested in Texas at the Dallas airport for possessing it, and in Florida a 69-year-old grandmother was arrested at Disney World for her bottle of CBD oil.
There are similar bills in the Louisiana Legislature this year aimed at legalizing hemp and CBD products but Schexnayder's proposal has the most momentum so far. His bill next heads to the Senate Agriculture Committee which is chaired by Sen. Francis Thompson (D-Delhi).
After the House approved the bill Tuesday evening, Thompson told WBRZ he had yet to take a position but does have concerns about legalizing CBD products.