Updated: Oct 6, 2021
Consumer interest in delta-8 THC products has seemed to grow exponentially in the last year or so, with more products available now than ever. The increased interest in this cannabinoid has caught the attention of many lawmakers around the country, and many states have taken action.
Delta-8 verses delta-9
One of the top concerns lawmakers seem to have about the current delta-8 market is the potential competition it may pose for the legal delta-9 THC market.
For example, Washington state has temporarily banned lab-created products made from hemp, like delta-8. Although there are other reasons for the ban, the state’s licensed cannabis delta-9 THC growers were reportedly the ones to request this ban due to concerns that delta-8 products were threatening the success of their businesses. A recent article in Hemp Industry Daily reports that the state’s cannabis delta-9 THC growers felt that “they were being forced out of the market by cheaper . . . products” that were not impacted by the same degree of regulation.
Including Washington, delta-8 products are currently banned in 14 states. These states include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont. Six of these 14 states have legalized delta-9 THC markets.
Lawmakers in Alabama and North Dakota are reportedly considering enacting a statewide ban. North Dakota does have a legalized delta-9 THC market.
Ensuring product safety
Another major concern among state lawmakers stems from how delta-8 products are produced. Delta-8 THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoind in hemp plants. However, it only occurs naturally in small amounts. To create products with high levels of this cannabinoid, manufacturers must use solvents to chemically convert hemp-derived CBD into delta-8 THC.
Some lawmakers and cannabis industry leaders reportedly worry that without the proper regulations, some delta-8 manufacturers may not take the steps necessary to ensure their products are safe to consume. This means ensuring that the products do not contain residual solvents or other potentially harmful substances that could be used in the manufacturing process or created during the manufacturing process.
While this concern may have led some states to consider bans on delta-8, Florida and Illinois have reportedly taken a different approach. Instead of banning the substance, lawmakers from these states have reportedly established a legal framework for it. Illinois does have a legal delta-9 THC market, but the potential for health risks related to the manufacturing process of delta-8 seems to be the major concern that led lawmakers to take action.
Oregon lawmakers are reportedly considering a similar strategy. Legislation that would regulate delta-8 has been presented to the Oregon House of Representatives. This legislation would reportedly allow the Oregon Liquor Control Commission set potency limits and testing requirements for delta-8 products.
It would also establish a task force to explore how delta-8 and other cannabis products fit with the state’s legal cannabis delta-9 THC market. Recreational cannabis delta-9 THC has been legal in Oregon since 2014, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission oversees that industry.
Each state must decide for itself
Delta-8’s place among other cannabis markets and the safety of delta-8 products seem to be common concerns among several lawmakers across the country. For now, it seems that each state will determine for itself the way delta-8 products will be handled within its borders.
Erica Stark, executive director of the National Hemp Association, admitted to Hemp Grower magazine that delta-8 issues are “complicated,” but that the National Hemp Association supports “anything that can help hemp farmers and entrepreneurs be successful.”
“People want it and should have access to it,” Stark reportedly said. “It’s a good use for excess hemp material. It might help businesses survive while we wait for regulations on CBD from the FDA, which should further open CBD markets.”