FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — The debate over legalizing marijuana has continued for decades, and in that time legal alternatives have emerged from the hemp plant including Delta 8. The substance has grown in popularity appearing in CBD shops and gas stations, however, the market is going unregulated and Kentucky lawmakers want to change that. This is not the first year lawmakers have tried to figure out what to do with Delta 8, and Gov. Andy Beshear also called for regulations late last year.
The bill was only just revealed in a committee substitute Thursday afternoon and was passed by lawmakers unanimously. It gained the support of the full House on the same day and passed 97 to 0.
“So what we have in the industry right now is we have sort of a Wild West situation, it’s a gray area,” Katie Moyer, president of the Kentucky Hemp Association, told lawmakers on the House Health Committee.
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Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, more cannabis products that aren’t necessarily marijuana are hitting store shelves. Hemp advocates want that momentum to continue.
“We’re not cool with synthetics. These crazy things, solvents, residual things that are floating around in materials that we don’t have any regulations for,” Moyer said.
House Bill 544 sponsor Rep. Rebecca Raymer (R-Morgantown) proposed a bill at the beginning of the session that would be an outright ban on the products; this bill would only regulate them.
“Filing that bill actually brought people to the table, got conversations started. At the end of the day, really what we wanted to do was keep it out of the hands of the kids. This has gotten to be a very big problem in our school systems,” Raymer told FOX 56.
The bill directs the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create regulations by August to raise the legal age to 21 to purchase or possess the product, move it behind the counter like tobacco products, and require a process known as “batch testing” for safety.
“There are bad players in this industry and this process of extracting this higher level of Delta 8, if it’s done inappropriately, can be dangerous. That can lead to byproducts behind pesticides, heavy metals. Those are not things that are good in our body,” Raymer said.
“It costs a lot of money to do the right thing. And when we have people making things in bathrooms and basements and barns, it really makes it hard to compete on a legitimate level,” John Taylor, CEO of Commonwealth Extracts, told lawmakers.
An original provision limiting the potency of the products was later removed, while Delta 8 is the main product this bill would regulate, it is broad enough to include all other forms of intoxicating hemp products like Delta 9 and 10.