THC products raise concerns among Louisiana lawmakers

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In a handful of bars across New Orleans, like Another Bar on Freret St., Crescent 9 THC Seltzer is quickly becoming a drink of choice. The non-alcoholic, hemp-derived drink from Crescent Canna launched in Louisiana six weeks ago for anyone 21 years old and up; all from hemp grown in North Carolina.

“It is a low dose THC product meant to be enjoyed at bars, restaurants, music venues and at home at your couch if you show choose,” CEO Joe Gerrity said.

Gerrity says his product goes through chemical testing before hitting the shelves in order to ensure quality. It’s sold at businesses with a hemp license from Alcohol and Tobacco Control after the state approves it.

“Our product is registered with the Louisiana Department of Health, it goes through full panel microbial and bacterial testing,” Gerrity said. “We are certain what is inside of it and it is made with all-natural ingredients like mango puree, pineapple, juice and a number of natural flavors.”

He says the product is safe to consume and, thus, has become a product that more bars and restaurants want to stock up on.

“This benefits not only the state, but small business owners, those employed by the industry and the consumer,” he said.

THC products like the seltzer have been gaining popularity throughout the state after a 2022 law allowed the adult consumption of hemp-based products. But now Governor John Bel Edwards says he wants to see more control about what’s being sold over the counter.

In an article from the Louisiana Illuminator, last year’s THC law may have indivertibly legalized recreational THC products that create a high for users. Now, Governor Edwards and other lawmakers meet regularly to discuss how to tighten the THC market.

Edwards says, “You’re going to see more enforcement, but you are also going to see clarification of what the law is.”

Kevin Caldwell, the Southeast Legislative Manager for the Marijuana Policy Project, says he’s concerned about what changes to the THC law could mean for the 2,500 retailers currently selling those products across the state.

“We can’t punish business owners because they were operating under the regulations under the Department of Health and there has been questions about whether or not they will take those products off the shelf,” Caldwell said.

While there haven’t been any concrete plans from state lawmakers as of now, Caldwell says he’s glad officials are taking their time and considering the impacts changes would have on businesses. He also thinks more action from state agencies could make the market safer, thus minimizing concerns.

“I would like to see the ATC making sure that stores are selling products that are approved from the Louisiana Department of Health and have consequences for bad actors,” he said.

But if lawmakers do away with THC products, Gerrity is worried about what that means for the industry as a whole.

“If Louisiana does not want to get behind it, they will sacrifice jobs, they will sacrifice small businesses and they will sacrifice the consumer having affordable and safe hemp products on the market,” he said.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.