Delta-8 Dispute Stops Illinois Pot Reform
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Delta-8 Dispute Stops Illinois Pot Reform

Illinois (and not only Illinois) is stymied by the debate over how to regulate Delta-8 THC. The hemp-derived cannabinoid allows access to THC even in states where cannabis use is illegal. Unfortunately, the debates over Delta-8 have made adult-use legalization and legislation more difficult to pass. In Illinois, a reform bill for the cannabis industry failed to pass by the deadline of May. The pushback is a result of stakeholders failing to reach a consensus during the final days in the spring session. If passed, the bill would have increased canopy space for craft-growers, allowed dispensaries drive-through windows to offer curbside pickup and given social equity retail license holders an additional year to secure property. Then, a proposal was added to regulate Delta-8 THC. The debate over whether to regulate Delta-8 like cannabis or ban it halted other reform efforts. Capitol News Illinois reported that the sponsor of the bill, Illinois Democratic Rep. LaShawn Fore, pushed the entire bill back until the fall session. Ford is against adding an Delta-8 THC prohibition to the bill until they get more insight from state regulatory agencies and industry stakeholders. Ford said, “We need it to be regulated, made safe, taxed and treated like cannabis.” Delta-8 THC is derived from the naturally occurring cannabinoid found in hemp. It is psychoactive and has effects similar to that of its more famous cousin Delta-9. Both are THC isomers, but one has the same double-bond on the eighth carbon whereas the other has it on the ninth. This gives the cannabinoids the names Delta-8 THC or Delta-9 THC. Delta-8 is generally known to produce a milder and more physical high than Delta-9, which has a more cerebral effect. The federal government still considers cannabis illegal. However, the $867 billion Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill, has made hemp production legal on a national level. Cultivators can only produce the plant when it contains less than.3% THC. Since humans will always find ways to get high, hemp producers began creating and selling psychoactive Delta-8. Delta-8 not only offers residents of states that aren’t legal something psychoactive, but also calls out the absurdity of federal legislation. It is absurd to regulate and outlaw a plant on the basis of its chemical levels. Nature will find a way. While it’s great that Delta-8 allows people to access some form of psychoactive marijuana, many may prefer to switch to Delta-9. First, Delta-8 extraction is much more difficult (and can even be harmful to the environment) than Delta-9, a product that is more prominent. Delta-8 production is also more costly, but Delta-9 is stronger. Many medical patients and recreational users prefer the potent and ethereal effects that Delta-9 has. It’s a pity that the Farm Bill is now getting in their way of adult usage and access to Delta-9. Delta-8 is regulated differently in different states. At least 14 states have banned Delta-8 products, and this number is likely to increase over the next 12 months. Colorado legislators, for example, introduced bipartisan legislation in 2023 to regulate intoxicating hemp-derived cannabis cannabinoids. Minnesota, the 23rd State to legalize adult-use cannabis recently, offers producers licenses for hemp and cannabis-derived products. In a perfect world, stoners would have easy, affordable and equitable access to hemp and cannabis products, without fear of the federal government. We will continue to follow the evolving patchwork of cannabis legalization across the U.S. until then.


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