Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Hemp Restrictions

The move comes in response to a lawsuit filed by four hemp businesses.

Hemp-based product makers won a temporary reprieve last week when a federal judge blocked the state of Arkansas from enforcing newly enacted restrictions on intoxicating goods such as delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10 vape cartridges and edibles.

Judge Billy Roy Wilson ruled last Thursday that Arkansas Act 629, passed by the legislature earlier this year, was likely to be found unconstitutional in an upcoming trial, and issued a preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing it, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

The law likely runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s Dormant Commerce Clause and the 2018 Farm Bill, Wilson found. The latter legalized hemp products nationally, and the former prohibits states from interfering with federally legal interstate commerce.

A lawsuit filed by a quartet of hemp businesses, including one from Colorado and another from Texas, argued that the new Arkansas law ran contrary to federal hemp legalization.

“As plaintiffs point out, ‘Would an employee from a state like Tennessee that regulates and taxes hemp products like delta-8 THC be subject to criminal liability when stopping for gas or staying overnight before reaching the final destination outside of Arkansas?’ I can’t answer that question,” Wilson wrote, according to Law360. “Plaintiffs do not know, and I don’t think anyone can, based on Act 629 as written.”

While Arkansas lawmakers are free to pass more restrictions on how hemp is grown or processed in the state, it can’t ban the transportation of intoxicating hemp goods through its borders, Wilson wrote.

The bill effectively “criminalizes hemp derived products without an effective exemption for interstate commerce,” Wilson wrote, and set a bench trial for August next year.

The judge also further blasted the state law for vague terminology and undefined standards, such as “danger of misuse” and asked how “overdose” and “inaccurate dosage” could be quantified in the context of the bill, and said the law could likely be overturned based on its vague language alone.

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