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Illinois Latest State To Push For Ban On Delta-8 Products

Illinois cannabis policy is at a crossroads, and at the heart of the issue is the growing market for delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive compound derived from hemp. The discourse around delta-8 has ignited a debate between the traditional cannabis sector, represented by the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAI), and the industry of unregulated delta-8 products.

With the playing field unbalanced by the current lack of regulation, some legitimate cannabis business owners are sounding the alarm, calling for a complete ban on delta-8 products. However, those invested in the delta-8 industry argue that the fears expressed are both unfounded and potentially damaging.

The Delta-8 Craze

Delta-8 THC is not new to the market but has rapidly gained popularity as a supposedly legal and readily available alternative to Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. Due to a legal loophole, products containing delta-8 have proliferated, attracting attention for their potency and accessibility.

The CBAI Push for Stricter Regulation

The CBAI and affiliated cannabis businesses are at the forefront of the movement to outlaw delta-8 products reports Capitol News Illinois. They argue that these unregulated goods are not only a threat to public health — with reports of unwell consumers on the rise — but also a tactic to entice young users. The unlicensed sale of delta-8 bypasses significant taxes and safety standards, they claim, putting legal dispensaries at a disadvantage.

“The goal of this legislation is to empower consumers ensuring that they know exactly what they’re consuming and what they are,” Tiffany Chappell Ingram, the executive director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, said. “We also want to protect the public health and maintain the integrity of our state’s long fought for legal cannabis industry, which is undermined by these unregulated products.”

“Without regulation, we have no idea what is really in these products,” Joseph Friedman, the former CEO of the former cannabis dispensary PDI Medical, said during a press conference last Thursday. “That should be concerning to us all, especially since some of these intoxicating products are chemically modified, and widely available to young folks, teenagers and kids.” 

In their bid for, the CBAI has drafted Senate Bill 3926 dubbed the Hemp Consumer Products Act, which seeks strict penalties for those caught selling unregulated hemp cannabinoid products. The proposed bill also includes provisions for a task force to study the safety of delta-8 and creates new licensure categories for cannabis retailers and manufacturers.

Additionally, the bill authorizes the issuance of an additional 50 Conditional Adult Use Dispensing Organization Licenses and an additional 50 Conditional Infuser Organization Licenses.

Defending the Delta-8 Market

Entrepreneurs within the delta-8 market are countering the CBAI’s calls, maintaining that a large portion of the industry complies with safety regulations and produces accurately labeled, and tested products. They argue that the rush to ban delta-8 products is an overreaction and could result in the closure of many legitimate businesses.

Glenn McElfresh, a co-founder of Chicago-based hemp-derived beverage company Plift, called last Thursday’s news conference “very frustrating and full of inaccuracies.” 

“Many of the claims made today do not represent the thousands of businesses who produce or sell safe, accurately labeled, and tested products,” he said.

State Reps LaShawn Ford and Lakesia Collins are advocating for regulation over eradication. They insist on preserving jobs, especially in communities of color, which the War on Drugs has disproportionately affected.

“We don’t want to regulate thousands of current businesses out of existence,” Collins said in a statement. “We want regulation, not termination, when jobs and opportunity are at stake, especially in Black and brown communities.

As Illinois deliberates over the fate of delta-8 products, it stands on the brink of joining the ranks of almost 20 states, like most recently Florida in imposing a ban. The controversy surrounding delta-8 THC unfolds against the backdrop of the 2018 Farm Bill’s loophole—a legislation primarily intended to foster the hemp industry but inadvertently giving rise to a thriving, and what some people believe as a contentious, delta-8 market.

With the federal government largely silent on the issue, states are increasingly taking regulatory matters into their own hands. This move towards state-level intervention highlights a growing recognition of the need to clarify the legal status of delta-8 products.

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