Tennessee Moves to Ban Hemp Products High in Psychoactive THCA

Tennessee regulators have proposed new rules aimed at closing a perceived loophole that has enabled the sale of psychoactive hemp products containing elevated levels of THCA, a cannabinoid that converts to THC when heated. The draft regulations would redefine legal hemp to cap the total amount of all THC isomers, including THCA, at 0.3% in finished products.

The proposed changes stem from a 2023 state law instructing the Department of Agriculture to establish a regulatory framework governing Tennessee’s hemp industry. Under the new rules, many popular hemp-derived consumables rich in THCA like smokable flower and vape cartridges would become illegal.

While the 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC, it did not account for other THC analogs like THCA prevalent in certain hemp strains. Savvy cultivators developed growing techniques yielding compliant hemp at harvest that later converts to psychoactive flower post-decarboxylation.

Marketed as a legal cannabis alternative, THCA-rich “hot” hemp has proliferated nationwide despite existing in a regulatory gray area. But Tennessee aims to eliminate that ambiguity by restricting total potential THC rather than just delta-9 levels.

Hemp advocates fiercely oppose the measure, arguing it exceeds the agency’s authority and devastates the state’s CBD and smokable flower industries. At a public hearing, they decried limiting consumer access to THCA’s purported therapeutic benefits beyond just intoxication.

While the Agriculture Department reviews feedback, it faces a July 1 deadline to finalize the rules after legal vetting. Supporters believe cracking down on psychoactive hemp upholds both the law’s intent and public safety concerns around youth access.

The contentious proposal reflects growing scrutiny nationwide over hemp’s exploited legal loopholes. As more states weigh total THC caps, the future of cannabinoid-rich hemp products hangs in regulatory limbo despite soaring consumer demand.


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