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Getting through the haze, Connecticut's hemp policies differ from growing legal marijuana

Gillian Flaccus

As Connecticut rolls out the adult-use marijuana industry, regulations differ between cannabis products in the state.

Congress passed legislation in 2018 that legalized hemp in the United States. In Connecticut, the sale of hemp with high THC content became illegal in Connecticut the same day that recreational adult-use marijuana became legal in July 2021.

THC is the psychedelic ingredient in cannabis that gets users high. Cannabis “refers to all products derived from the plantCannabis sativa,” meaning both hemp and marijuana.

To be considered “hemp,” a product must have less than 0.3% THC based on its weight after it's harvested and dried.

According to the state Department of Consumer Protection, hemp manufacturers must meet testing standards to ensure that a batch meets that THC requirement.

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If a batch exceeds the THC threshold, the state agency requires the manufacturer to destroy the batch or get agency approval to combine it with another batch to lower the THC content.

The state considers a product with “THC concentration of over 0.3% on a dry weight basis [...] a schedule II controlled substance under Connecticut law,” just like cocaine, methamphetamine, and oxycodone.

The state Department of Agriculture issues licenses for hemp production. For example, it can give licenses like a manufacturer of hemp consumables license.

According to the state, consumables are products “intended for human ingestion, inhalation, absorption or other internal consumption” — like food, beverages, lotions, cosmetics, oils and over-the-counter drugs containing CBD.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health finds that cannabis produces many cannabinoids, two being THC and CBD, which has anti-inflammatory properties.

THC is the only one responsible for getting users high. According to the state Department of Consumer Protection, “CBD derived from hemp is not a controlled substance and may be manufactured and sold in the state of Connecticut.”

Plants that exceed the 0.3% THC limit are considered marijuana. Licenses for the sale of adult-use recreational cannabis are being issued by the state Department of Consumer of Protection.

The state Social Equity Council is tasked with developing the adult-use marijuana industry equitably. The council approves equity status for applicants who apply from areas of Connecticut negatively impacted by the war on drugs.

Kalleen Rose Ozanic is a former intern at WSHU.