Hemp products could be banned in Wyoming

Hannah Shields with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, via the Wyoming News Exchange

CHEYENNE — The owner of Natural Wellness CBD, a local store that’s produced and sold hemp products in Cheyenne since 2019, said a new bill draft threatens to shut down her business.



Since Rachelle Tabor opened the doors of the business on East 20th Street nearly five years ago, she said her hemp products have been used by customers to treat opioid and narcotic addiction, offer pain relief, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.







“We’ve seen people dance in our store, we’ve seen people cry in our store,” Tabor said. “My biggest concern is that a lot of these people rely on this now, and, if they go through with this, it is going to cause people to go back on opioids and narcotics.”







House Bill 129 is one of three controlled substance revisions scheduled to be considered by the Joint Judiciary Committee during its meeting next Tuesday in Casper. If passed into law, HB 129 would prohibit the ability to “produce, process, possess, purchase, sell, transport or use edible hemp or any edible hemp product” in Wyoming.







CBD business owners claim this type of legislation would give them little else to sell, forcing them to close their doors.







Platte Hemp Co. is a CBD retailer in Wyoming with five brick-and-mortar stores spread throughout the state. Owner Sam Watt confirmed the passage of this bill, as written, would force him to close his business.







“They want it totally removed out of the state of Wyoming,” Watt said. “That would shut all the shops down, because what would you have left?”







Shutting down all five of his stores would put 39 employees out of work, Watt said, not to mention the financial loss in state taxes. According to Watt, Platte Hemp Co. pays the state an average of $30,000 a month in sales tax.







Both Watt and Tabor plan to attend the committee meeting and testify against the bill. Hemp products are confused with marijuana, Tabor said, and the bill was evidence of the legislators’ severe lack of knowledge and understanding of cannabis.






“If you read that bill, they’re really confused about marijuana and hemp,” Tabor said. “If it’s hemp, there is no psychoactive (properties) to the THC.”



Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, who is co-chairman of the Joint Judiciary Committee, said the bill was prompted by a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation report during a legislative meeting back in April. DCI reported that law enforcement officers struggle to test THC amounts in hemp products.







“That’s what prompted the conversation to begin with,” Landen said. “What a lot of us did not contemplate was that all of this edible and smokeable hemp product would end up out on the market.”







Anecdotal testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Landen said, stated teens were being hospitalized due to overuse of some of the hemp products. There was increased concern among state lawmakers over the levels of psychoactive ingredients in such products.







"Both Tabor and Watt affirmed the cannabinoids in hemp products, however, did not result in a high. Hemp products, as defined under federal law, are derived from part of the cannabis sativa plant "with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis."







CBD does not cause a high, the CDC reported.







“You could drink everything in my store — there is nothing there that would get you high,” Tabor said.







Landen said the bill draft opened an opportunity for the Legislature to have “the first testimony and debate” over the issue, and he anticipated there would be much discussion during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting.







“Whether this one will move forward, we will just have to wait and see,” Landen said.




This story was published on September 14, 2023.




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