Cannabis Extract Bill May Run Into Constitutional Problems

It’s hard enough to get conservative Utah legislators to vote for any bill that may be connected with marijuana or hemp.

But put on a negative constitutional note, and the challenge becomes greater.


Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, has HB105, a bill that would allow Utahns to purchase a liquid extract of hemp, a grass product used to make rope, and in some cases has marijuana-like chemicals.

Froerer told UtahPolicy that he started out earlier this year trying to help out epileptic children, who, various studies find can be helped with the hemp extract oil.

But since he’s gone public with his efforts, he’s been getting letters and emails from post-18-year-olds from around the country testifying that they, too, have found aid with the hemp extract.

Froerer said the $1 trillion U.S. Farm Bill passed this week by the U.S. Senate has language in it that helps Froerer’s and others’ cause of giving aid to epileptic Americans, young and old.

However, the long constitutional note on HB105 says (at the bottom of the bill), in part, “this legislation has a high probability of being declared unconstitutional by a court.” The note was just released this week.

“Obviously, I would prefer not to have the note on there,” said Froerer.

The notes are placed on bills by the attorneys in the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel if, in their research, there are clear problems with the bill and federal court decisions.

The note says that HB105 defines “hemp extract as an extract of the cannabis plant or a mixture containing

cannabis plant material that contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol by weight and contains no other psychoactive substance.”

For all the dopers out there, THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, whether you smoke it or eat it, that gets a person “high.”

But it is in such a small amount of the extract oil, or not really there at all, says Froerer, that “there is no reason to take this (oil), it will not get you high.”

However, the oil can have amazing results on young epileptics, knocking down their seizures both in number and severity.

The note goes on to say: “The federal Controlled Substances Act defines “marihuana” as “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not,” and only exempts a compound or other mixture made from the “mature stalks” or sterilized seeds of the plant. 21 U.S.C. § 802(16) (2014).

“The act lists marihuana as a controlled substance and makes it illegal to possess a controlled substance without a prescription, or to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute the substance. Id. at §§ 841, 844.”

The new Farm Bill talks about growing hemp, and says it is up to states to decide control on products with less than 0.3 percent of HB105’s active ingredient.

Froerer said for those Utah legislators who have studied his bill and what it would do, they can probably understand why HB105 has such a critical constitutional note.

For those who don’t understand the issue, “there will be some education” that Froerer will have to undertake.

Froerer says he is now working with 12 other state legislatures, whose members are interested in his bill and are using it as a basis for their own hemp oil legalizing legislation.

So, says Froerer, it is not only Utah epileptics who could be helped by HB105, but ill people in a dozen other states, as well.

“We have a chance to stand out here in Utah. This problem is not unique to us. Through (HB105) we can push the feds to give more power to the states to make these kind of decisions, and help our citizens.

“The Farm Bill is a good step forward. Now we have to move ahead.”