Illinois Proposes Crackdown on Unregulated Cannabis-Like Hemp Products

Lawmakers and cannabis industry representatives in Illinois are pushing for tighter regulations on hemp-derived products, including a proposed ban on intoxicating cannabinoids like delta-8 THC. Their efforts aim to curb the proliferation of unregulated, potentially dangerous hemp goods sold without oversight.

Under legislation introduced last month, Senate Bill 3926 would establish a licensing system for hemp businesses alongside testing and labeling mandates for non-intoxicating hemp products like CBD. However, synthetically produced compounds like delta-8 that can produce a cannabis-like high would be prohibited.

“Without regulation, we have no idea what is really in these products,” said Joseph Friedman of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois at a recent press conference. He warned many unregulated items mimicking popular snack brands may contain unknown additives posing risks, especially to youth.

The proposed crackdown comes three years after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production federally while failing to provide a regulatory framework for hemp cannabinoids. This regulatory vacuum has enabled a booming unregulated market for intoxicating hemp products readily available without age restrictions at convenience stores and vape shops.

State Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado expressed alarm over youth “greening out” by accessing unregulated delta-8 items, stating: “It scares me to my core to think about young people putting that in their bodies and we just have no idea what’s in it.”

Cannabis businesses argue the lack of oversight threatens public health while undercutting the legal marijuana industry’s heavily regulated market. Penalties for violating the proposed hemp rules include fines from $1,000 to $10,000.

However, some hemp retailers counter that banning delta-8 could eliminate jobs and simply drive an unregulated market underground. An alternative bill proposes taxing and regulating intoxicating hemp products instead of prohibition.

As the debate rages, the delta-8 dilemma underscores challenges in policing new hemp derivatives following federal legalization without robust regulations to protect consumers and maintain control over intoxicating cannabis compounds.


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