‘A kill shot from the cannabis industry to the hemp industry’: Hemp regulations change in Alaska

Intoxicating hemp products must be gone from store shelves next month
‘A kill shot from the cannabis industry to the hemp industry’: Hemp regulations change in Alaska
Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 3:12 PM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2023 at 8:30 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - There are new regulations on hemp in Alaska that require the ingredient that gets a user “high” to be removed.

Hemp is used primarily for commercial and industrial products such as rope, clothing, and food. It’s legal across the United States.

Many people tend to assume hemp isn’t intoxicating, but in some cases, it can be — if it contains Delta-9 and THC.

These new regulations, which go into effect Nov. 3, mean Delta-9 can no longer be in hemp designated for human consumption.

Delta-9 THC is the naturally-occurring intoxicating component of the cannabis plant. THC is the primary psychoactive compound from the cannabis plant and is chiefly responsible for getting people high.

Alaska’s News Source previously found stores that sold the intoxicating hemp in Anchorage, where it was possible for anyone to buy the product with no age restrictions.

“One, my primary concern has always been the wellbeing of kids, so this product currently is not age-gated,” said Joan Wilson, the executive director of the Alaska Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office (AMCO).

The State Hemp Plan falls under the Department of Natural Resources.

It also means stores selling the intoxicating hemp aren’t required to pay the high taxes on the product that cannabis shops are required.

“They don’t carry the same tax burden as that applies to our recreational marijuana cultivators,” Wilson said. “You know, right now, even during these difficult times, they’re [the cannabis industry in Alaska] contributing about $28 million into the general fund, the Marijuana Education fund, the Criminal Recidivism fund.”

Some stores in Anchorage were selling hemp with Delta-9 that was purchased from outside the state. There is pushback in the state about changes in the hemp industry.

Dan Ferguson of Primo Alaska, which makes several hemp products, said in June that the proposed changes would make between 90-95% of all hemp products in the state illegal.

“This is basically a kill shot from the cannabis industry to the HEMP industry in [Alaska],” Ferguson wrote.

He went on to write that “they want to make their medicine expensive and unavailable in Alaska purely to benefit cannabis companies and taxes for AMCO.”

Wilson disputes that saying there is a substantial financial burden in ensuring legal sales in the cannabis industry that the hemp industry avoids.

“So do I think that those [regulated cannabis businesses] are the entities that should be the primary source of recreational marijuana and Delta-9 in Alaska?” Wilson asked.