While hemp may be federally legal in all 50 states, Arkansas may ban it on a state level. Senate Bill 358, proposed in 2023 during the 94th General Assembly of the Arkansas Senate, would "amend the law concerning certain tetrahydrocannabinol substances; to prohibit the growth, processing, sale, transfer, or possession of the industrial hemp that contains certain delta tetrahydrocannabinol substances; to include delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10 tetrahydrocannabinol in the list of Schedule VI controlled substances..."
SB 358 may be only 24 pages long but would have a drastic impact on the entirety of the Arkansas hemp industry if passed.
First and foremost, this bill would ban the production and sale of Delta THC products derived from hemp. It would classify such products as Schedule VI substances. In Arkansas, possession of a Schedule VI substance could range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class A felony depending on the charge.
The bill's wording also includes a prohibition on the "growth" of a hemp plant that includes Delta THC cannabinoids. All hemp strains contain small amounts of Delta THC cannabinoids. Legal hemp contains less than .3% THC on a dry weight basis. The wording of SB 358 implies that hemp could not be legally grown in the state if passed. However, legal hemp would be allowed to be transported through Arkansas from one state to another.
SB 358 does not stop at the prohibition of Delta THC cannabinoids. Further along in the bill, there is wording that addresses what may be used to create a hemp-derived product. According to the bill, "A hemp-derived product shall not be combined with or contain any of the following: Any liquid, hydrocolloid, animal-based substance, thickener, sweetener, flavoring, synthetic product, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or other non-hemp-derived substance; Nicotine or tobacco; or a percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol as to create a danger of misuse, overdose, accidental overconsumption, inaccurate dosage, or other risk to the public."
In layman's terms, this would ban a wide variety of products, including vapes, tinctures, topicals, and edibles.
However you slice it, SB 358 would put the entirety of the Arkansas hemp industry on the chopping block. From banning Delta-THC to other cannabinoid products to outright banning the growth of hemp, this is a bill that could eliminate an agricultural niche.
At the time of this writing, SB 358 has not yet been passed. Arkansas residents are encouraged to voice their opinions to their senators. To find the senator that represents you, please visit the Arkansas Senate website for more information.
This article is not written as legal advice. For legal guidance, please consult proper guidance from a licensed attorney.