Arizona Senate Bill Seeks To Ban Sales Of Delta 8 THC

Inhale a gentle puff from your favorite vape pen or fragrant flower and exhale as the euphoric high overtakes you as the pungent smoke meanders through the room. Delta 9 THC is the main naturally occurring psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, the one that makes you feel good and stoned after a long day at work.

But another cannabinoid, Delta 8 THC, is making its way into dispensaries, gas stations, and mainstream stores. The ingredient’s chemical formula mimics Delta 9, but with molecules arranged differently. Although not as powerful as Delta 9, it will get you high, although its legality in Arizona is still in question.

Senate Bill 1715, which was passed by the Arizona Senate on March 15, seeks to make the manufacture and sale of the hemp-derived compound a crime. The bill, which is backed by the Arizona Dispensaries Association, would ban “manufactured cannabinoids derived from hemp,” including Delta 8.

Click to enlarge

The Arizona State Capitol

Sean Holstege

While some see the ban on hemp-derived Delta 8 as a method to protect consumers from an unregulated psychoactive product that children can legally obtain, others see it as a barrier to competition in the cannabis industry. .

“What we’re doing is getting psychoactive products into the hands of children if we allow this synthetic process to go forward,” said Sam Richard, executive director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association. .

Richard said any product consumed or ingested should undergo testing, and that includes regulated cannabis. Farm Bill products are not subject to the same stringent testing requirements as cannabis, he said.

The federal 2018 Farm Bill legalized the commercial production of hemp. It allows Arizona and other states to grow hemp under the oversight of its state department of agriculture. Federal law states that hemp can contain up to 0.3% Delta 9 THC.

Delta 8, which is made by chemically converting CBD extracted from hemp plants, is not mentioned in the law. Some entrepreneurs took advantage of this gray area to market Delta 8 products before state authorities could do anything about it.

Click to enlarge The Delta 8 THC molecule differs from Delta 9 due to the location of a double bond in its chain of carbon atoms (highlighted in orange).  - NEW TIMES ILLUSTRATION

The Delta 8 THC molecule differs from Delta 9 due to the location of a double bond in its chain of carbon atoms (highlighted in orange).

new times Drawing

Sam Slosburg, the co-founder of Delta 8 Oils in Camp Verde, is one such entrepreneur. The brand sells its tinctures and vape cartridges at dispensaries like Arizona Organix in Glendale and Kind Meds in Mesa.

“As an all-natural hemp-based product, Delta 8 oils offer an abundant alternative to opioids and other side-effect-laden pharmaceuticals, as well as psychoactive substitutes with more plentiful and reliable supplies than its pharmaceutical counterparts. marijuana,” he says on the Company Website.

Jonathan Udell, director of communications for Arizona NORML, said companies like Delta 8 Oils could create healthy competition with synthetics in an industry with a high barrier to entry.

“It’s important to have these synthetics in the market, and part of that is because of how anti-competitive our market here in Arizona is,” Udell said. He noted that there is 169 marijuana dispensary licenses (and 123 dispensaries) in the state, serving a population of 7.3 million. In comparison, Colorado has 655 retail dispensaries with 5.8 million inhabitants.

Udell said proper disclosure and regulation are also important.

“We would like to see a disclosure requirement for hemp-derived cannabinoid products and dispensaries so consumers know what they’re getting,” Udell said. “And also stop sales of untested products in the unregulated market, either by simply requiring everything to be sold in dispensaries or by requiring a similar testing program for other places.”

Arizona isn’t the only state debating whether to ban Delta 8 THC. The synthetic’s legality is unclear in California and Mississippi, and it’s illegal in 14 states, including Colorado, Nevada and New York, according to CBD Thinker.

As SB 1715 waits to be assigned to a House committee, Arizona remains in limbo on Delta 8. The unregulated hemp-derived compound may offer a milder high than traditional marijuana and a medium for under 21 to get their hands on it, but it’s still in a legal gray area.

Norman D. Briggs