Whitmer signs bill restricting sale of Delta-8 THC to licensed dispensaries


Delta-8 THC is sold at smoke shops and convenience stores that aren't licensed to sell marijuana. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Delta-8 THC is sold at smoke shops and convenience stores that aren't licensed to sell marijuana.

Delta-8 THC, a popular and intoxicating compound synthesized from hemp, can only be sold by licensed marijuana dispensaries in Michigan beginning on Oct. 11.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill Tuesday that regulates Delta-8, which has been sold at smoke shops and convenience stores that aren’t licensed to sell marijuana.

“This package of bills continues to show Michigan is the model for the nation in regard to protecting its residents and making sure that those who consume marijuana products do so in a safe manner,” Whitmer said in a written statement. “I am glad to see Michigan continuing to lead on the implementation and regulation of a safe, secure marijuana industry, which has already brought tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the state, as well as thousands of [good] jobs.”

A cheaper alternative to traditional cannabis, Delta-8 is sold in cartridges, concentrates, gummies, chocolates, and tinctures. Trouble is, the compound isn’t independently tested, and there are no credible studies of the effects of Delta-8.

Federal law doesn’t prohibit the sale of Delta-8 because the 2018 farm bill, which legalized hemp, doesn’t address the compound. Its cousin, Delta-9, is the primary form of THC found in most marijuana products.

Under the Michigan bill, Delta-8 will be regulated by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), which means the compound will be tested for impurities. Last month, the U.S. Cannabis Council issued an alarming report that described the Delta-8 market as a “rapidly expanding crisis” that “presents a public health risk of potentially wider impact than the vape crisis.” Without proper cleanup or purification, elevated levels of copper, chromium, and nickel can remain in the final product.

In April, the Michigan Poison Center at Wayne State University issued a warning about Delta-8, saying it has been marketed or mislabeled as CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants.

By regulating Delta-8, state lawmakers took a more tolerant approach to the compound. At least a dozen states have banned it so far.

“The voters of Michigan chose to legalize and regulate marijuana in the interests of justice and public health,” Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, who introduced the bill, said. “We know that banning these substances is not the best way to keep the public safe. But we also know that these psychoactive compounds are currently being sold with no public health standards to anyone, regardless of age. Instead of allowing these new hemp derivatives like Delta-8 to circumvent our world-class regulated system, this new law will apply the same rigorous testing and commercial standards that currently protect consumer safety in the legal marijuana marketplace.”

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