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Tennessee Bill Would Regulate the Sale of Delta-8 THC

Tennessee’s leaders have reintroduced a bill which would regulate cannabinoids derived from hemp, such as delta-8 and beta-10 THC. This follows a failed attempt last year. While some hemp supporters applaud the bill, others prefer legalizing cannabis that is naturally high in delta-9 THC.

State House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Sen. Richard Briggs, (R-Knoxville) introduced a bill on Tuesday to regulate products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as delta-8 and delta-10 THC—his second attempt to do so.

House Bill 403 would tax and regulate hemp-derived cannabinoids through what many call synthetic processes. Products with delta-8 THC can be marketed as somewhat psychoactive with weaker effects than delta-9, but they still have the same effect.

“Delta-8 is a legal substance that can be sold and packaged in the form of candy or gummies; it often has a very high concentration of THC,” Rep. Lamberth stated. “There are no regulations and no legitimate way for anyone to know exactly what they are buying. Nothing in our current law prohibits a child from purchasing delta-8.”

This bill will ban sales of hemp-derived cannabis products to anyone under 21 years old. It also adds an additional 5% sales tax on all retail purchases. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture would regulate and enforce licensing and quality testing.

“We need to regulate this because the horse is out of the barn,” Sen. Briggs said. “This stuff is everywhere, and we can’t put that genie back in the bottle.”

Delta-8 THC: What’s it all about?

Hemp-derived CBD is thought to be able to be converted into other compounds. It’s often marketed as being psychoactive. This doesn’t mesh with the general U.S. definition of hemp, bred specifically to not be psychoactive.

Delta-8 THC can be found in nature, but only in very small quantities: Chemical & Engineering News, cannabis plants naturally contain just 0.1% delta-8 THC or less—though some plants contain as much as 1%. Jeffrey Raber was cofounder of Werc Shop and is also the CEO. C&E News that there isn’t enough delta-8 THC found naturally in hemp to be economical for extraction.

Hemp growers across the state support the bill, even though there is some concern about hemp-derived cannabinoids. “We support anything that doesn’t put burdensome regulations on the industry,” Kelley Hess, executive director of the Tennessee Growers Coalition, said.

Some hemp growers support Delta-8 products while others don’t.

Artists such as Margo Price support legalization, but don’t support hemp-derived cannabinoid products in Tennessee. Opponents don’t like the way certain cannabinoids are extracted from hemp, which usually means altering the CBD molecule, which is found in hemp in larger amounts, using natural solvents and acids.

Delta-8 Regulated Last Year

Some states have tried to ban hemp-derived cannabisoids. Utah is one example. Tennessee, however, would regulate it.

Rep. Lamberth was the sponsor of an earlier effort to regulate delta-8 THC (and similar compounds). Some Tennessee legislators and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation stated that the regulation of delta-8 would allow the state to legitimize this industry. 

House Bill 1927 was previously introduced to regulate delta-8. It would make it illegal for most people in cases where there are no trace levels. This bill was updated in April 2022 to add other hemp-derived THCs, such as delta-9 and 10, as well as the derivative hexahydrocannabinol(HHC), while excluding non-THC hemp cannabisoids like CBD.

Tennessee is one of 11 non-green states that hasn’t legalized, regulated, or decriminalized cannabis in some form.