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With the legalization of hemp, an unexpected gray market has emerged around Delta-8 THC, a lesser-known cannabinoid that has some minor psychoactive properties. Less-than-scrupulous online dealers, gas stations, head shops and even some dispensaries have been selling this unregulated substance over the last couple of years as it becomes increasingly popular. But federal regulators are warning that there may be adverse side effects associated with the extract.

According to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) official health alert, certain Delta-8 THC extraction processes could result in harmful byproducts. Since the compound is unregulated, there are variations in content across the spectrum of available products, and it’s impossible to tell if labels are displaying the correct information. The agency also warned that improperly labeled products could confuse consumers looking for nonpsychoactive hemp oil.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has recorded 22 adverse events reports between December 2020 and July 2021 including vomiting, hallucinations, trouble standing and loss of consciousness. “It is important for consumers to be aware that Delta-8 THC products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use in any context,” wrote the agency in a statement. “They may be marketed in ways that put the public health at risk and should especially be kept out of reach of children and pets.”

Delta-8 THC products are sometimes marketed as “light” or “diet” cannabis. The unregulated substance—which has no federal age restrictions—is known to produce mild euphoria that is similar to the well-known psychoactive Delta-9 THC but less pronounced. Hemp producers are able to convert CBD into Delta-8 THC.

Hemp Company Loses Funding

The Las Cruces City Council has voted to return funds to the state that were meant to help prop up a new hemp business following revelations that it failed to meet expected hiring benchmarks.

The city was set to invest $400,000 that the New Mexico Economic Development Department provided along with $150,000 of its own money to support 420 Valley, LLC, a hemp-manufacturing company. But the company reportedly failed to meet hiring quotas set as part of the agreement, and the city has voted to drop the plan.

According to Las Cruces Sun News, 420 Valley was supposed to be a hemp and CBD production facility with an attached retail and consumption area for CBD drinks. The city and state promised to invest money into the project in 2019 with a planned opening in 2020.

Business owners said the new facility would create 55 full-time positions in the city by 2023, and the agreement required that 420 Valley hire at least 18 people by the end of 2020. But the pandemic threw a proverbial wrench into the plans, and the company was unable to find employees. “We started reaching out to people for the hiring process, getting it lined up, but we didn’t have anybody that was fully committed to come work for us,” 420 Valley co-owner Rick Morales told KFOX in El Paso, Texas.

The company was reportedly left with a large quantity of hemp biomass used to produce CBD that it was unable to process last year. The market value of the compound also dropped significantly in that time. Plans to build the facility were also interrupted by skyrocketing lumber prices, and 420 Valley was ultimately unable to meet the stipulations of the agreement.

Last week the Las Cruces City Council voted 5 to 0 in favor of canceling the agreement and returning the $400,000 to the state. Morales told reporters that the business wouldn’t be significantly affected by the decision. Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima said 420 Valley can re-request funding once it’s more prepared. The company has yet to start operations.

UNM To Start Pot Classes

The University of New Mexico Continuing Education is partnering with training education experts Green Flower to launch a set of cannabis industry courses to train workers for the new industry.

According to a press release from the university, four program options will be available to budding cannabis workers: Cannabis Agriculture and Horticulture, Cannabis Law and Policy, Business of Cannabis and Cannabis Health Care and Medicine. Each program will consist of three eight-week courses over a six-month period, and students will be awarded a certificate upon completion. Enrollment for the courses is open now.

“As providers of professional development and career education, we want to provide the knowledge and skills that our community will need to be successful in this rapidly growing market,” said Executive Director of UNM Continuing Education Audrey Arnold. “We are thrilled as well for this innovative partnership with Green Flower, who can offer solid education in this industry and an affordable and realistic approach in training.”

Thousands Try For Producer Licenses

Since August 1,558 potential cannabis entrepreneurs have reportedly started the process of applying for producer licenses.

According to Albuquerque Business First, 14 completed applications for production and micro-business licenses were submitted in the first two days after the Cannabis Control Division opened the process. So far the CCD has received 58 completed applications. The CCD says there are no limits on how many applications it will accept or approve. The division has 90 days to review each application, and none have been approved at this time.

Santa Fe Farms Officer Honored by Forbes

New Mexico-based hemp company Santa Fe Farms heard some good news last week. Company chief strategy officer Kim Kovacs was named in Forbes’ 50 Over 50: Impact List, showcasing women over the age of 50 “who are leaving a positive and lasting impact on the world.”

Kovacs was formerly the CEO and chair for the Arcview Group, a cannabis and hemp financial firm, and has founded six companies. Kovacs only recently moved into the hemp sector after working in finance. Her focus has been on clean technology, software, life sciences and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing.

“It is an honor to be recognized by Forbes and to be included with so many amazingly talented and visionary businesswomen,” Kovacs said. “I look forward to strategically refining and expanding Santa Fe Farms to ensure this integrated industrial hemp enterprise remains at the forefront of sustainability, ESG and global commercialization.”

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