States wrestle with Delta-8 regulation

States wrestle with Delta-8 regulation

Many states, including Arkansas, have wrestled with how to regulate Delta-8 THC, the intoxicating but largely unregulated cousin of marijuana. Today, national trade magazine MJ Biz Daily chimed in with a helpful roundup of how states are grappling with regulation around the country. 

In summary, they’re not making much headway.

The regulatory murkiness in Arkansas — where the state has avoided definitively taking a position on the legality of hemp-derived THC —  is essentially the same in all the states. 

This thorough and informative piece by Arkansas Times editor Lindsey Millar detailed Delta-8’s status in Arkansas earlier this year. He explained the distinction between marijuana and Delta-8:

Marijuana is another name for the flowers of the Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants that are rich in THC, technically known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Delta-9 THC remains federally illegal and legal in Arkansas only to certified medical marijuana patients. Hemp, at least defined by the 2018 federal Farm Bill, is any cannabis plant or its byproducts that contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. Because delta-8 THC products meet that definition, they’re legal, goes the argument. Many state legislatures, including Arkansas’s in the 2021 legislative session, passed legislation to align local hemp laws with the Farm Bill.

The consequence of the legislation in Arkansas is that Delta-8 is widely available in convenience stores, tobacco stores, hemp stores and elsewhere throughout the state.

A visit to Your CBD Store at the Chenal Promenade in Little Rock last month found a section of Delta-8 products called Above that are produced by the retail chain’s Sunmed brand. The products along the wall included containers of Delta-8 pre-rolls. Notably, marijuana pre-rolls are not allowed under the state’s medical marijuana laws but Delta-8 pre-rolls are unregulated.  

MJ Biz Daily points out that more than a dozen states have introduced regulatory legislation but the results have been mixed at best. 

Take neighboring Tennessee, for example, where legislators couldn’t decide whether to outlaw Delta-8 or place regulations on it, so they decided to leave it alone.

“We literally ended up right where we started the year,” the president of the Hemp Alliance of Tennessee told the publication.  

Maryland and Minnesota passed age requirements for Delta-8 purchases, the article notes. 

MJ Biz Daily also notes a Topeka, Kansas, retailer who was shut down by local authorities for selling THC products derived from hemp. His solution? Open a store 30 miles away in Lawrence where he believes the local authorities will enforce the law differently. It sounds similar to the plight of a pair of business owners in Camden who were arrested by local authorities for selling Delta-8 products earlier this year.  

The Arkansas legislature could take action during a special session this year if it is included in the session’s limited scope of business or the issue could be addressed during next year’s regular session.