Mar 13, 2024 - News

Arizona AG cracks down on delta-8 sales

A sign next to a door advertises Delta 8 products for sale.

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

Arizona retailers that aren't licensed to sell marijuana cannot sell hemp-derived substances like delta-8 THC, the Arizona attorney general said Monday.

Why it matters: Arizona is one of many states that have unsuccessfully sought to crack down on unregulated products like delta-8 and delta-10, which are often sold at smoke shops and other businesses without the age restrictions or regulations imposed on marijuana.

Zoom in: 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 regular pot, there are no regulations on potency.

Driving the news: In an opinion issued Monday, Attorney General Kris Mayes said that while a 2018 federal law arguably legalized hemp-synthesized intoxicants like delta-8, she found that state law, in fact, does not.

  • Therefore, delta-8 sales are only permitted at businesses or other entities licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to sell cannabis.

Reality check: Attorney general opinions aren't legally binding.

Yes, but: Mayes spokesperson Richie Taylor told Axios the opinion isn't enforceable in the same way a court order is but said this is what the office believes state law says "and we expect people will comply with that."

  • The attorney general will work with the governor's office and state agencies like ADHS to ensure the law is enforced.
  • That means the office expects unlicensed businesses will stop selling the products, he said.

The other side: Jon Udell, a spokesperson for the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, called the opinion disappointing and said it gives the state's marijuana industry a monopoly, the Arizona Mirror reported.

  • Phoenix attorney Tom Dean, who specializes in cannabis law, told the Mirror he's interested in putting together a coalition to go to court to settle the issue.

What's next: ADHS had no comment on whether it would begin enforcing marijuana laws against businesses that sell delta-8.

The big picture: Mayes emphasized that the opinion shouldn't be interpreted as a "general endorsement" of products like delta-8, which "may pose public health concerns and information about these products is still emerging."

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