Apr 4, 2024 - News

New rules for Delta-8 and other hemp-infused products

Illustration of a hemp leaf on a column.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A new law will require testing for hemp-infused edibles, drinks and other consumable hemp products and restrict their sales to those over the age of 21.

Why it matters: The sale of products with Delta-8 and other cannabinoids in specialty shops, health food stores, gas stations and other businesses has fueled an estimated $8 billion industry allowing people to ease anxiety, soothe sore muscles or just relax, man.

  • The products' rapid rise in popularity has sparked concerns about underage purchases and recreational marijuana use, putting lawmakers on the defensive.

State of play: The years-in-the-making bipartisan law — overwhelmingly approved in the final hours of this year's legislative session and now sitting on Gov. Brian Kemp's desk — could have been a lot worse for the cannabis industry, Tom Church, an Atlanta attorney who represents hemp retailers, told Axios.

  • The measure requires businesses that sell or manufacture hemp edibles, gummies, oils and other products to obtain a license from the state agriculture department.
  • Georgia-licensed labs must test products to measure the amount of THC, CBD, CBDA and other cannabinoids and ensure they are properly labeled.

Catch up quick: Congress legalized hemp in 2018. In doing so, they opened the floodgates for the manufacture and sale of gummies, oils and drinks infused with Delta-8 and other cannabinoids that can give users quasi-high effects similar to marijuana's THC.

  • Those products would remain legal under the law sitting on Kemp's desk.

Yes, but: Products containing THCA, a nonintoxicating cannabinoid that becomes psychoactive when it's heated or burned, would likely become illegal under the new law, Church said.

Of note: Representatives for some hemp businesses and retailers welcomed the new law, arguing it would potentially weed out bad actors or shops selling CBD of uncertain origin.

The other side: The Georgia Medical Cannabis Society says the law "casts a long shadow of operational and financial strain" on smaller businesses — and is urging members to tell Kemp to veto it.

What we're watching: Whether lawmakers viewed the law as a regulatory framework or a stop-gap measure. Supporters of legalized cannabis fought several efforts by lawmakers to create even more stringent standards that they said could have banned Delta-8 in Georgia.

Read Church's legal analysis of the new law

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