New Alternative Cannabinoid Laws

New Alternative Cannabinoid Laws

In 2018, Congress passed another rendition of the Farm Bill. The law made the growth of hemp legal and, by extension, the sale of hemp-derived products. The development began with businesses selling CBD, a hemp product that contains little to no THC. However, hemp-derived products began to evolve, notably with the introduction of Delta 8. The hemp-derived Delta 8 fell under the legal framework of the law, as it contains less than 0.3% THC and is also psychoactive, offering a similar high to marijuana. Soon, the alternative cannabinoid craze got in full swing as producers made various hemp-derived products within the legal guidelines. Alternative, hemp-derived products like Delta 10, HHC, THC-O, and THCa hit store shelves due to the 2018 Farm Bill, the first of many alternative cannabinoid laws.Alternative Cannabinoid Laws

However, the 2018 Farm Bill created unusual legal circumstances. When Congress passes a law, it usually becomes the law of the land, superseding all State laws. In this case, the 2018 Farm Bill deliberately left the legislation about the regulation and legality of alternative cannabinoids up to the States. This gray area caused a scramble between alternative cannabinoid businesses trying to make new legal products and States attempting to catch up and pass their own alternative cannabinoid laws.

Five years later, states and alternative cannabinoid laws are a hodgepodge of conflicting restrictions. People who used Delta 8 and other products since 2018 are now finding their State is restricting the substances. For any alternative cannabinoid consumer, following the legal system is a must and a challenge. Some states recently passed laws, others are in the process, and many remain in limbo. Here are some alternative cannabinoid laws people should catch up on.

Arkansas Alternative Cannabinoid Law

Arkansas recently passed State Bill 358. This alternative cannabinoid law alters restrictions on hemp-derived products and their sale. State Bill 358 outright bans Delta 8, Delta 10, Delta 6a, and all acetates, such as THC-O. Furthermore, it also contains some catch-all language, stating the restriction of hemp-derived products, “Any other psychoactive substance derived [from hemp] therein.” (SB 358, page 4, lines 9-10). This language means any hemp-derived product the government classifies as “psychoactive” is illegal. The definition of “psychoactive” is problematic, as the State can classify certain substances like CBD as “psychoactive.” Although CBD doesn’t create a euphoric high, its “relaxing” qualities might be considered a psychoactive effect. This language could be a massive issue for people who use CBD daily to help with aching muscles and anxiety.

State Bill 358 does not pass into law until August 1st, 2023. Moreover, Arkansas expects it to face challenges in the court system. To counter this, State Bill 358 included restrictive measures that kick in if the courts challenge the bill. The restrictions will require brick-and-mortar retailers who sell alternative cannabinoids to pay a $5,000 licensing fee. Also, Arkansas will require these retailers to face additional restrictions. Therefore, the law could go to court, stand as law, and when it goes into law, retailers are out $5,000, other fees to comply with restrictions, and still cannot sell alternative cannabinoids. If this sounds unfair, it’s because it is.

No matter what happens in the court system, State Bill 358 will impose significant restrictions on alternative cannabinoids. Although certain restrictions, like mandatory third-party testing, might be beneficial, the whole still needs improvement. Additionally, more States have similar laws.

Colorado Alternative Cannabinoid Law

Colorado was the first State to legalize recreational marijuana. Therefore, one might believe that the state legislature possesses progressive views on alternative cannabinoids. Strangely enough, the State of Colorado released a statement in 2022 declaring the sale of all alternative cannabinoids illegal. However, as one cannabis law attorney says, “That’s not the law. That’s merely a policy memo.” Therefore, stores still freely sell alternative cannabinoid products, but the State clearly wants this to change.

Colorado Senate Bill 271 does precisely that – restricting alternative cannabinoids. Introduced to the floor in 2023, the bill seeks to restrict the sale of Delta 8 products. Senate Bill 271 would limit hemp-derived products from containing more than 2.5 milligrams of Delta 8. This tiny amount of Delta 8 will drastically alter how Delta 8 products exist in Colorado. The standard Delta 8 gummy contains 25 milligrams of the cannabinoid. Furthermore, many consider Delta 8 to be about five times weaker than marijuana. So, to get the equivalent high of 25 milligrams of marijuana with 2.5 milligrams of Delta 8, gummies would require one to take 100 Delta 8 gummies. I like gummies a lot, but I am not interested in eating 100 whenever I want to take a load off.hhc gummy

For a State with a progressive view on cannabis, these restrictions seem particularly odd. One can speculate that big marijuana farms don’t want to see competition for their products. Perhaps Colorado does not want to regulate a new subsection of cannabis products. Whatever the reason, the sale of Delta 8 in Colorado might change dramatically and soon.

Reasoning Behind Arkansas and Colorado Laws

Although Arkansas State Bill 358 and Colorado Senate Bill 271 are quite different, the reason for their existence is similar. Many lawmakers pushing these laws say they aim to “protect children.” They reason that brick-and-mortar retailers like tobacconists and gas stations will sell hemp-derived products to minors. I find this reasoning to be patently ridiculous.

The cry of “protect the children” has always been an easy political move that preys on the fears of corrupting youth. The State will not prevent hemp-derived products from falling into the hands of children by making these products illegal; rather, they will likely become much worse. When retailers legally sell products, they have a legal investment in verifying the age of all their consumers. On the other hand, drug dealers do not care about the age of their consumers – there is no incentive. If Delta 8 products are illegal in Arkansas and Colorado, drug dealers will drive outside of State lines, buy product, return, and sell it to underage consumers with no discretion. Keeping hemp-derived products on store shelves keeps them away from children.

Overall, many of these laws seem to be a backlash against the 2018 Farm Bill. If Congress had not initially fumbled the law, none of this would have happened. However, we now deal with the fallout of States introducing a litany of unnecessary and potentially harmful restrictions. If you are especially concerned about these issues, write to your federal and State representatives and explain why these laws are misguided. In the meantime, stay high.