Mar 22, 2023 - Politics

Arizona part of national crackdown effort on hemp-derived Delta-8 THC

Photo: Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Arizona is among several states moving to crack down on delta-8 THC, a hemp-derived substance that's largely unregulated.

The big picture: Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia are all eying legislation to close delta-8 sales loopholes over concerns that kids could consume it, Axios' Tina Reed reports.

Details: Delta-8 is chemically similar to delta-9 THC, which is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

  • It's manufactured from the cannabidiol, or CBD, that occurs naturally in hemp.
  • Many users report the high that results from consumption is milder than from marijuana, but unlike with regular pot, there are no limitations on potency.
  • Delta-8 sales have boomed in recent years since the federal 2018 Farm Bill opened the door to hemp cultivation and distribution.

Zoom in: In Arizona, there are no restrictions on how potent delta-8 products can be or whom they can be sold to, meaning they can be sold to minors.

  • By contrast, people under age 21 can't legally purchase marijuana, and the state restricts potency for people who don't have medical marijuana cards.
  • Delta-8 products also are not subject to the same taxation or regulations, such as prohibitions on marketing to kids.

Driving the news: Two state senators have introduced legislation that would crack down on the sale of Delta-8.

  • Senate Bill 1271 would place regulation of hemp-derived products under the Arizona Department of Agriculture, while a proposed House amendment would impose restrictions such as prohibitions on sales to people under 21 years old.
  • Senate Bill 1453 would prohibit anyone except for licensed dispensaries from selling delta-8 products.
  • The Hemp Industry Trade Association backs SB 1271, while the Arizona Dispensaries Association supports SB 1453.

Between the lines: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee rejected Republican Sen. T.J. Shope's SB 1453 in February.

  • SB 1271, sponsored by Republican Sen. Sonny Borrelli, passed the Senate unanimously last month and awaits a hearing in the House Land, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Of note: The U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a national advocacy group for the industry, called for delta-8 products to remain legal but put under "a stricter regulatory framework akin to adult-use cannabis."


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