New Delta-8 hemp products create regulatory concerns on Arizona’s cannabis industry

TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – There’s a push for more regulations on Arizona’s cannabis industry. Critics say some companies are exploiting a loophole involving hemp. Hemp isn’t psychoactive, so it doesn’t have the same restrictions as marijuana. But some companies have taken a compound from hemp and turned it into Delta-8, a product that can get you high. “Delta-8 is just something that we responded to because of demand,” Chloe Bee said.

Bee owns Happy Healthy High Horny Herbs on Mill Avenue in Tempe. While she says there’s a demand for the Delta-8 peanut butter cups and gummies, Delta-8 products only make up about 1-2% of total sales. So bee pushes her customers to choose natural alternatives instead, given the lack of regulation surrounding Delta-8 products. “Me and other shopowners kind of like watch out for each other just so we don’t get any fines,” she said. “But it is kind of vague and unclear.”

Sully Sullivan is trying to change that. The Hemp Industry Trade Association (HITA) executive director helped put together Senate Bill 1271 (introduced earlier this year by Senators Sonny Borrelli and David Gowan), which would more tightly regulate Delta-8 and CBD products. “Protections for children and minors,” Sullivan said. “So childproof packaging, the products are required to be inaccessible to minors whether that’s behind the counter or in a locked case.”

Sullivan says more regulation for hemp products won’t just make them safer but will also bring big-time revenue to Arizona due to state taxes on the products. “It’s a large market,” he said. “It’s projected to go to 7 to 10 billion dollars by 2027-2028. And if Arizona can participate in that and keeping sure are children are safe, that’s really the goal that the hemp industry has.”

At Happy Healthy High Horny Herbs, no one purchased any Delta-8 products during our time there. Those we spoke with off-camera who had tried the products weren’t huge fans. It’s part of why Bee doesn’t plan to expand her hemp selection, even if there is more hemp regulation. That being said, she also doesn’t think the hemp products in her stores are any more dangerous than drinking too much.

“We have people that are wasted out front of our store all the time,” she said. “And I think that is dangerous because most likely they’re going to drive home. I have heard of somebody getting too high and getting concerned and going to the hospital to make sure they were ok. But that’s the only thing I’ve ever heard about in terms of danger.”

Senate Bill 1271 advanced in the senate with 29 yes and zero no votes. It’s now in the House, and if passed, Sullivan says the plan would be for it to go into effect next year.

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