The International Spa Association (ISPA) has announced that hemp and CBD products will not be allowed on the show floor at the 2019 ISPA Conference and Expo, taking place September 11-13 at The Venetian (Las Vegas). The announcement was made after receiving notification from the Las Vegas Sands Corporation (LVSC), operators of The Venetian, that the property will not allow hemp-based products to be sold or advertised for commercial purposes on site.
“After months of research and negotiation with The Venetian, we are extremely disappointed with the position they have taken as it relates to hemp-based product companies being represented at the upcoming 2019 ISPA Conference & Expo,” says Lynne McNees, ISPA president. “ISPA is working closely with our member brands that offer hemp-based products to ensure that they have a presence that is compliant with the Venetian’s recent stance.”
According to Carol Wetzel, senior vice president of general counsel for LVSC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not yet issued its regulations regarding the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized certain hemp products developed with less than 0.3 percent THC. In addition, the Nevada Department of Agriculture has also not yet issued its 2019 legislation related to hemp-based products, meaning that The Venetian must follow the guidelines set in the 2014 Farm Bill and any guidance set thereafter by the USDA. According to a 2016 statement issued jointly by the USDA, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hemp-based products may be sold in or among states with an agricultural pilot program for purposes of marketing research but not for the purpose of general commercial activity. According to Wetzel, because ISPA is a commercial event, The Venetian cannot allow hemp-based products to be sold or advertised for commercial purposes on property.
Wetzel did not respond to American Spa’s request for comment. Read Wetzel’s full letter to the ISPA team below:
“As a follow up to our recent phone call, we have conducted further research on the relevant Nevada and federal laws involving CBD/Hemp. Please see below for Venetian’s position on this issue.
Pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill, certain hemp with less than 0.3% THC is not illegal under U.S. Federal Law. The bill did not legalize CBD. CBD generally is still a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). However, subject to the below, if a CBD product is hemp-based with less than 0.3% THC, such CBD product could fit within an exemption under the CSA.
To fit within the exemption mentioned above, a hemp-based product must be produced consistent with the bill, federal regulations, and applicable state regulations, and by a licensed grower. Hemp-based products that are not produced in this manner do not fit within the exemption and are still illegal under the CSA. Accordingly, only hemp-based CBD products that (a) were produced by a licensed grower consistent with the federal and state regulations and (b) contain less than 0.3% THC would fit within the exemption and would be legal under the CSA.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) has not yet issued its regulations pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill. Similarly, the Nevada Department of Agriculture (“NVDA”) has not yet issued its regulations pursuant to the 2019 Nevada legislation related to hemp-based products (SB 209 and SB 347) or created a plan as required to be submitted to the USDA pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill. The USDA has stated that it intends to issue its regulations in fall 2019. The NVDA is expected to issue regulations and establish a plan within a similar timeframe.
In the meantime, parties are legally required to continue to operate subject to the limitations of the 2014 Farm Bill and any guidance thereunder, as stated by the USDA here. Based on the 2016 Statement issued jointly by the USDA, the DEA, and the FDA, hemp-based products may be sold in or among states with an agricultural pilot program for purposes of marketing research “but not for the purpose of general commercial activity.” Because hemp-based products cannot be sold for commercial purposes, we cannot allow hemp-based products to be sold or advertised for commercial purposes on property.
We understand that this is a continually evolving area and that there is some general confusion about what is legally permissible given the lack of enforcement and the overlap with state marijuana laws. At this time, we cannot allow hemp-based products to be sold or advertised for commercial purposes on property, as the 2016 Statement remains in full force and effect until the USDA issues its regulations. We continue to monitor this topic and will revisit it at the appropriate time.”