Minnesota looking at central overarching regulator for hemp, cannabis in the state

Minnesota regulators are calling on lawmakers to create a central state cannabis office to oversee the booming markets for hemp, CBD and medical pot — which they say are quickly expanding beyond their grasp. Reports the Minnesota Star.

The report reveals…

Officials from the state Pharmacy Board and the departments of Agriculture, Health and Public Safety have pitched the idea of an Office of Cannabis Management to govern the budding industry and prepare Minnesota for the potential legalization of recreational marijuana. They say having a one-stop shop for all things cannabis, like other states have established, would streamline efforts and bring a variety of expertise under the same roof.

Thousands of Minnesotans have driven these markets to new heights in recent years. Patient enrollment in the medical cannabis program grew 27% from 2018 to 2019 and now exceeds 18,000. The number of hemp farmers grew eightfold — from about 50 to 400 — in the same span. And consumer CBD products are popping up in the unlikeliest of places, from convenience stores to pet shops.

“This industry just sort of sprung itself on all of us,” said Whitney Place, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “There’s all this unregulated product out there and I feel like we really do need an office to manage some of these things that are out ahead of federal regulation.”

The Agriculture Department has its hands full with the growing state hemp program, Place said, but it also must police illegal CBD food products, such as infused coffees, kombucha and beer. The agency must chart its own legal course with CBD foods because the federal Food and Drug Administration offers little guidance, she said.

The Board of Pharmacy has faced similar struggles in regulating retail CBD products. There are so many CBD oils, ointments and inhalants that the board does not have enough resources to test them all.

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