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Hemp could be approved as food additive in Minnesota

Consumer demand for hemp products continues to grow. House lawmakers want to keep Minnesota growers ahead of the competition.

Sponsored by Rep. Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Center), HF2996 would approve industrial hemp extracts as a food additive. The bill would approve one or more nonintoxicating cannabinoids as food additives. Cannabinoids are derived from the cannabis plant, including cannabidiol, cannbigerol and cannabinol.

The bill was approved 13-0 by the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee Monday and referred to the House State Government Finance and Elections Committee, with the expectation the bill would later return to the agriculture committee. It has no Senate companion.

“This legislation is an effort to provide Minnesota hemp producers and businesses some needed regulatory certainty regarding hemp-derived foods and beverage products, including those with CBD,” Vang said. “It would also provide consumers with confidence that a made-in-Minnesota hemp product meets high regulatory standards and removes confusion in the marketplace in creating a more level playing field for Minnesota produced hemp products and related businesses.”

There are more than 100 cannabinoids produced from the cannabis plant, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The department would create rules regarding the production and manufacturing of the extract, the acceptable tolerance level for food additives, and labeling and testing requirements.

Vang said several states have approved similar legislation. As a result, Minnesota-based businesses are being squeezed out, according to John Dugas, founder of Superior Molecular, a licensed industrial hemp lab in White Bear Lake.

“I think this bill is a good start on Minnesota companies and products, but maybe additional enforcement of out-of-state companies would be in order because we certainly would want to favor our in-state companies,” said Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck).

Anderson did question the need for state policy because regulations on many food additives are administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Reality is they’ve been silent on regulation of this portion of the hemp industry,” Vang said. “We know consumer demand is not changing, its increasing. We need a regulatory body, and the FDA has not been there to develop regulations. Therefore, it’s up to us at the state level to look at those regulations.”

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