By Silvana Carpanelli-Hayes
Welcome to 2024!
This year promises to be a roller coaster ride for wellness products in the US, and we thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of the things we see coming down. From the regulatory pipeline to what WAAVE will bring to the table, we wanted to give a heads-up on everything to enhance your business in such a paramount year for the industry.
As we all noticed there was no 2023 Farm Bill! Which means the status quo remains. No Federal regulation changes for hemp-derived products are expected until September 2024. But we can still learn a lot from State legislation of the past year, and perhaps read the tea leaves on what the new Farm Bill might bring.
Please note I say “might”. With the politics involved in the industry, anything is possible. One thing we can say is that the taxes involved in the sale of cannabis -hemp’s rowdy close-cousin- could see a congressional attack on all hemp-derived products that are “intoxicating”.
The more states legalizing cannabis, the more states that will legislate towards closing the loophole that the 2018 Farm Bill left; giving Delta 8 and all the others a room to legally exist in the market. The desire of potentially collecting every penny of the green tax dollar makes legislators rule against all other products with similar effects, that are by nature exempt from tax collection. Yes, the laws are masked as consumer protection but we can say that in reality, they are economic decisions, not public health ones.
With a potential new Farm Bill, we expect some definitions to change and close the gaps that allowed the Deltas to be sold and not be considered by the DEA a designer drug, hence scheduled by proxy. But at the same time, there is a strong push from red states with large hemp productions to increase the legal limit of THC in hemp, traditionally 0.3%. Again, this seems to mainly be due to the amount of money they lose burning crops that do not comply with the old Farm Bill.
I am looking forward to seeing how they increase the limit and protect the cannabis industry at the same time. This could bring an end to Delta 8 but a revitalizing push to Delta 9 products.
On another hand, CBD also is under the microscope, as more states emphasize that Food and Beverages with CBD are not legal. Some acquiring banks are broadening this definition to ingestible, but we work hard on educating them to understand the difference between products. Truth be told, it looks like the FDA wants nothing to do with the regulation of CBD: based on their rules, the ingredient is already illegal to be added to any consumable as it is officially part of an FDA-approved medication. It seems like Congress will continue to pass the hot potato on this, so expect States to be creative. The latest is New Port Beach in California, banning all CBD sales in their zip code.
Within the Kratom industry, we can see it is in overdrive due to four states passing a Kratom Consumer Protection Act. As a consequence expect a boom in COA requirements. We have already complied with the law and implemented ID validations for the specific markets, but some banks are requesting COAs for all Kratom products. At the moment we are working with our partners to keep this requirement applicable only to the States that require it by law.
The American Kratom Association continues to advocate for more controls to ensure Kratom is not Federally banned, so the best advice I can give you is to purchase Kratom from distributors who provide COAs for their batches. We have been meeting with the HART Organization, a new lobbying entity advocating for the protection of 7-Hydroxymitragynine in Kratom as some States are implementing a 2 % limit on allowed Kratom sales. This special State requirement will increase the need for COAs in the industry. (More on this topic below, where I’ll tell you what’s coming down our development pipeline)
Enforcement of the regulations is on the rise. Not only for card-present merchants but especially for online merchants. An unfortunate situation happened to one of our largest Kratom sellers, and they are now in hot water due to transactions done with their alternative payment processor. I can share that they were fined thousands of dollars for selling Kratom to a minor through their website, and they could not show they had checked their ID for the transaction.
Because this was actually a State Court case, the card association audited 4 months of their sales. At WAAVE, we gladly provided a detailed audit showing all the merchant’s sales done through our system had an ID Verification token attached to them for sales in that state. We are now all hoping they don’t get sued by the family in civil court.
We know many of you carry many MIDs and rotate them, unfortunately, this means your other MIDs are not monitored by WaaveCompliance.
Please make sure this never happens to you, when in doubt, contact your account manager. If you have other MIDs for redundancy, consider the fact that WAAVE has not let you down since deployment, and perhaps it is time to evaluate the added value of being monitored by our compliance tech.
What’s coming on WAAVE
With COAs being a hot topic now, we are proud to announce that we have partnered with two labs to give you a superb deal, and we are bringing the COA request system into your WAAVE Merchant Dashboard. When you need a COA for cannabinoids or Kratom, you will be able to order them directly through WAAVE at a heavily discounted price. Your request will be given priority at the lab and they will send the results directly to us. We will then approve the item and send you the link to add the information to your product page.WAAVE is not monetizing this service, we just think that it will help you manage your COAs needs better.
Also, enhancements in WaaveCompliance are coming very soon: we will alert you when a COA is expiring so you can act swiftly to avoid any loss of income due to old COAs.
On the other hand, we have a new sponsoring bank, which now allows us to provide compliance and payment processing services for additional categories. These include nootropics, nutraceuticals, all vapes, and nicotine products. Reach out to your account manager if you have any questions or if you would like to expand your inventory!
From tools development, we are glad to announce that WaaveSonar is getting smarter: with now 6 months of data gathering, the anti-fraud system has more data points to help you make smarter risk assessment decisions. If you are not taking advantage of this feature yet, please check out these articles in our Knowledge Base.
Finally, we started to perform dedicated merchant Business Reviews: we believe the more insights you have, the better decisions you will make. Their main objective is to showcase how you are performing and provide valuable information about your business, and so far the feedback is positive! This year we will continue to schedule the meetings, and we hope all of you consider joining us to gain more insights and improve operations to increase your yearly revenue with WAAVE.
We look forward to working with you in 2024!