Lawmakers, cannabis industry calls for ban on ‘delta-8’ and other psychoactive hemp products

Lawmakers, cannabis industry calls for ban on ‘delta-8’ and other psychoactive hemp products

By HANNAH MEISEL
Capitol News Illinois
hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ largest cannabis business association is pushing to ban the sale of delta-8 THC, an increasingly popular psychoactive substance that’s popped up in corner stores across the country in recent years.

New legislation filed in Springfield this week revives an ongoing debate over delta-8 and other hemp-derived products, which are totally unregulated in Illinois even as the state approaches the five-year anniversary of legalizing cannabis. 

Read more: Cannabis regulatory reform bill fails to advance in spring legislative session

For those who’ve been trying to break into Illinois’ still-young cannabis industry, the state’s inaction on delta-8 is an insult to the thousands of dollars and years of work that some business operators have put into trying to get their businesses off the ground.

“It is deeply disheartening and, frankly, a betrayal by the state to allow these shops to pop up and call themselves dispensaries,” Ron Miller, a co-owner of his family-run Navada Labs and BLYSS Dispensary in Mt. Vernon, said at a Capitol news conference Thursday.

And for the industry’s lead lobbying group, the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, delta-8 represents other threats, including continued reports of Americans getting sick after consuming unregulated products, and the growing efforts to market delta-8 to young people.

At that news conference, CBAI Executive Director Tiffany Ingram stood next to a table filled with delta-8-infused candy and snacks in packaging strikingly similar to the multi-national brands they were designed to imitate. In one hand, Ingram held up a bag of Fritos corn chips and a similar-looking bag of “Fritos” snacks with small cannabis leaves on it.

Additionally, Ingram said, without having to pay cannabis-related taxes or other compliance costs, delta-8 businesses are not only undercutting legitimate licensed dispensaries, but the price is also accessible to kids.

“It says on the door you can only be 21 to come in,” Ingram told Capitol News Illinois of her trips to faux dispensaries in Chicago’s South Loop and Uptown neighborhoods to purchase some of the delta-8 products on display at the news conference. “But no one checked my ID.”

State Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, D-Chicago, said her 15-year-old daughter has told her that delta-8 products are very accessible to her peers.

“As a parent, there is nothing more scary than to hear stories from your child about how kids are ‘greening out,’” she said. “And when I asked her questions like, ‘Hey, are these kids getting the supply from their parents?’ …She says, ‘Oh no, we just go to the corner store.’”

Products that contain delta-8 THC are pictured next to the original packaging they resemble. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Hannah Meisel)

In addition to selling the products at corner stores and gas stations, delta-8-focused bakeries have also become a business model in the city of Chicago, according to reporting from the Chicago Sun-Times.

Under Senate Bill 3926, businesses caught selling delta-8 or other unregulated hemp-derived products would face a $10,000 fine. Ingram acknowledged that the threat of fines is only as good as an enforcement mechanism but said the law would at least allow the state’s Department of Agriculture to investigate the businesses.

Additionally, the bill would create 50 new state licenses for legitimate cannabis dispensaries and 50 new licenses for cannabis infusers, which Ingram said could help bring entrepreneurs currently selling delta-8 into the fold. The measure would also require a state task force to study delta-8 products to ensure their safety, which Ingram characterized as more of a “pause” than an outright ban.

But those already operating in the delta-8 space said the bill would amount to an outright ban on delta-8 and other hemp-derived products.

Glenn McElfresh, a co-founder of Chicago-based hemp-derived beverage company Plift, called 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 Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, has been pushing for regulation of delta-8 products, warning that prohibiting them would undermine the criminal justice goals of legalizing cannabis in Illinois. Ford and state Sen. Lakesia Collins, D-Chicago, are pushing a pair of bills that would restrict the sale of delta-8 products to anyone under 21, along with taxing them and creating a new class of state licenses for hemp businesses.

“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.”

Hemp and marijuana are both derived from cannabis plants, but hemp can only contain 0.3 percent or less THC. If it contains more THC than that, it is considered marijuana. In 2018, the annual federal “Farm Bill” made the distribution and sale of hemp and its byproducts legal federally.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Leave a Comment





Local News

Vintage cars will again be rolling in the La Grange Pet Parade. The 78th edition of the parade starts at 9:30 a.m. June 1. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Folks urged to enter costume contest for La Grange Pet Parade

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch About 40,000 people are expected along the streets of downtown La Grange on Saturday morning June 1, with some of them dressing in costumes for the 78th annual La Grange Pet Parade. A costume contest has long been part of the parade, Molly Price, the parade’s executive director, said on…

Deputy Supt. of Public Works Ken Tucker (from left), Trustee Tim Kovel, Building Commissioner Matt Struve, Mayor Ernest Millsap, Public Works Superintendent Jody Kovel, Trustee Jorea Touranjeau, Trustee Dominic Misasi, and Trustee Lida Mills at the site of the new public works office building. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

Hodgkins breaks ground on new public works building

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan The Village of Hodgkins is getting ready to welcome a new public works office building at its facility off of 67th Street, east of East Avenue. Village officials and public works employees gathered last month for a groundbreaking. Hodgkins Mayor Ernest Millsap explained the history behind the Paul G. Struve Public Works Building.…

Sandburg pitcher Ethan Highfill gets Marist's Aiden Cech to swing and miss on a pitch during a 7-3 Eagles' victory on May 23. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Baseball | Sandburg tops Marist to open playoffs, but falls to LW West in regional final

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent For the second consecutive year, Sandburg’s season came to an end at the hands of Lincoln-Way West. The Eagles (21-12) fell to the Warriors, 6-1, in the Class 4A Sandburg Regional championship game on May 25. They had advanced to a second playoff game with a 7-3 comeback victory…

The Chicago Red Stars' Penelope Hocking had her streak of three games with a goal stopped in a 1-0 loss to Louisville on May 25 in Bridgeview. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Emma Sears scores match’s lone goal as Louisville blanks Red Stars

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The Chicago Red Stars are miles ahead of where they were last year. The team secured its 16th point on May 12. In 2023, it had to wait until July 7 to hit its 16th point during a season in which it finished in last place in the NWSL.…

all sports 2

Sports Bits | St. Michael seventh-grader sets Illinois state record in 110-meter hurdles

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent • St. Michael School seventh-grader Tommy Walter set a grade-school state record en route to winning the Illinois Elementary School Association Class 2A 110-meter hurdles at the grade-school state meet held May 10-11 in East Peoria. Tommy set the Class 2A record in the event with a time of…

Water Polo Stock

Water Polo | Lions, Eagles, Macs, Crusaders and Mustangs earn All-State honors

Spread the love

Spread the loveAll-State water polo Lyons girls water polo standout Maya Mladjan was named to the Illinois Water Polo organization’s All-State first team. The Lions’ Delaney Judkins and Isabella Recker, and Mother McAuley’s Becca Engquist earned second-team honors. Sandburg’s Claire Donnell made the third team and the Mighty Macs’ Andi Moriarity made the fourth team.…

Chicago Christian's Grace Mullin is committed to Air Force. Chicago Christian photo

Chicago Christian’s Grace Mullin caps successful spring by committing to Air Force

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Grace Mullin has proven talents on the ground. In the future, the Chicago Christian graduate may show more talents in the air. After an incredible spring and track season, Mullin — who graduated May 23 — capped things off by committing to the Air Force Academy. This came less…

tennis stock

Boys Tennis State Finals | Lyons’ Jack McLane and Mason Mazzone take 2nd

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Two doubles teams from Lyons made deep runs at the IHSA Class 2A boys tennis state finals, with one of them bringing home some hardware. The boys state tennis finals were held at various sites in the north and northwest suburbs May 23-25. The Lions’ Jack McLane and Mason…

all sports

Postseason Roundup | Area teams still alive in playoffs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Several area baseball, softball, boys volleyball and girls soccer teams were still alive in the postseason heading into this week. Among those was two-time defending Class 3A champion Nazareth, which is competing in Class 4A this season. The Roadrunners, Brother Rice and Mount Carmel won regional titles. So did…

The St. Laurence 400 meter relay team of Harley Rizzs, Quinton Williams, Vincent Enoch and Monroe Thompson Jr. won the 2024 state championship in 41.94, becoming the first relay team in Vikings history to win a state title. Photo courtesy of St. Laurence High School

Boys State Track Finals | St. Laurence’s Harley Rizzs wins 100m title, helps Vikings to 400m relay gold

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent St. Laurence junior Harley Rizzs was a member of the Vikings football team that earned a 2023 Class 4A state runner-up trophy the day after Thanksgiving. He bettered that two days before Memorial Day when he became the first St. Laurence track athlete to win an individual state championship.…

Neighbors

Vintage cars will again be rolling in the La Grange Pet Parade. The 78th edition of the parade starts at 9:30 a.m. June 1. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Folks urged to enter costume contest for La Grange Pet Parade

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch About 40,000 people are expected along the streets of downtown La Grange on Saturday morning June 1, with some of them dressing in costumes for the 78th annual La Grange Pet Parade. A costume contest has long been part of the parade, Molly Price, the parade’s executive director, said on…

Deputy Supt. of Public Works Ken Tucker (from left), Trustee Tim Kovel, Building Commissioner Matt Struve, Mayor Ernest Millsap, Public Works Superintendent Jody Kovel, Trustee Jorea Touranjeau, Trustee Dominic Misasi, and Trustee Lida Mills at the site of the new public works office building. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

Hodgkins breaks ground on new public works building

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan The Village of Hodgkins is getting ready to welcome a new public works office building at its facility off of 67th Street, east of East Avenue. Village officials and public works employees gathered last month for a groundbreaking. Hodgkins Mayor Ernest Millsap explained the history behind the Paul G. Struve Public Works Building.…

Sandburg pitcher Ethan Highfill gets Marist's Aiden Cech to swing and miss on a pitch during a 7-3 Eagles' victory on May 23. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Baseball | Sandburg tops Marist to open playoffs, but falls to LW West in regional final

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent For the second consecutive year, Sandburg’s season came to an end at the hands of Lincoln-Way West. The Eagles (21-12) fell to the Warriors, 6-1, in the Class 4A Sandburg Regional championship game on May 25. They had advanced to a second playoff game with a 7-3 comeback victory…

The Chicago Red Stars' Penelope Hocking had her streak of three games with a goal stopped in a 1-0 loss to Louisville on May 25 in Bridgeview. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Emma Sears scores match’s lone goal as Louisville blanks Red Stars

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The Chicago Red Stars are miles ahead of where they were last year. The team secured its 16th point on May 12. In 2023, it had to wait until July 7 to hit its 16th point during a season in which it finished in last place in the NWSL.…

all sports 2

Sports Bits | St. Michael seventh-grader sets Illinois state record in 110-meter hurdles

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent • St. Michael School seventh-grader Tommy Walter set a grade-school state record en route to winning the Illinois Elementary School Association Class 2A 110-meter hurdles at the grade-school state meet held May 10-11 in East Peoria. Tommy set the Class 2A record in the event with a time of…

Water Polo Stock

Water Polo | Lions, Eagles, Macs, Crusaders and Mustangs earn All-State honors

Spread the love

Spread the loveAll-State water polo Lyons girls water polo standout Maya Mladjan was named to the Illinois Water Polo organization’s All-State first team. The Lions’ Delaney Judkins and Isabella Recker, and Mother McAuley’s Becca Engquist earned second-team honors. Sandburg’s Claire Donnell made the third team and the Mighty Macs’ Andi Moriarity made the fourth team.…

Chicago Christian's Grace Mullin is committed to Air Force. Chicago Christian photo

Chicago Christian’s Grace Mullin caps successful spring by committing to Air Force

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Grace Mullin has proven talents on the ground. In the future, the Chicago Christian graduate may show more talents in the air. After an incredible spring and track season, Mullin — who graduated May 23 — capped things off by committing to the Air Force Academy. This came less…

tennis stock

Boys Tennis State Finals | Lyons’ Jack McLane and Mason Mazzone take 2nd

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Two doubles teams from Lyons made deep runs at the IHSA Class 2A boys tennis state finals, with one of them bringing home some hardware. The boys state tennis finals were held at various sites in the north and northwest suburbs May 23-25. The Lions’ Jack McLane and Mason…

all sports

Postseason Roundup | Area teams still alive in playoffs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Several area baseball, softball, boys volleyball and girls soccer teams were still alive in the postseason heading into this week. Among those was two-time defending Class 3A champion Nazareth, which is competing in Class 4A this season. The Roadrunners, Brother Rice and Mount Carmel won regional titles. So did…

The St. Laurence 400 meter relay team of Harley Rizzs, Quinton Williams, Vincent Enoch and Monroe Thompson Jr. won the 2024 state championship in 41.94, becoming the first relay team in Vikings history to win a state title. Photo courtesy of St. Laurence High School

Boys State Track Finals | St. Laurence’s Harley Rizzs wins 100m title, helps Vikings to 400m relay gold

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent St. Laurence junior Harley Rizzs was a member of the Vikings football team that earned a 2023 Class 4A state runner-up trophy the day after Thanksgiving. He bettered that two days before Memorial Day when he became the first St. Laurence track athlete to win an individual state championship.…