Delta-8 in Michigan is getting a legal makeover.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan signed legislation on Tuesday that regulates Delta-8 THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid derived from hemp. Under the package of bills passed by lawmakers and approved by Whitmer, Delta-8 THC products will only be legally available from cannabis retailers licensed by the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) beginning on October 11, 2021.
“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 well-paying jobs.”
More than a dozen states across the country including New York have passed laws to ban Delta-8 THC products, which have skyrocketed in popularity since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Currently in Michigan, unregulated, Delta-8 THC goods can be found at gas stations, convenience stores and other retail outlets. Because the products are not regulated by the state, most are not tested for impurities such as pesticides, heavy metals and microbial contamination.
In April, the Michigan Poison Center at Wayne State University issued a warning about Delta-8 THC, which said that the cannabinoid has been mislabeled as CBD in products found in the state. That was followed by a report from the U.S. Cannabis Council in June that characterized the Delta-8 THC market as a “rapidly expanding crisis” that “presents a public health risk of potentially wider impact than the vape crisis.”
Delta-8 Legislation Updates Current Regulations
The package of bills updates legislative definitions “regarding products derived from the cannabis plant so that all intoxicating substances will be safety-tested through the MRA’s statewide monitoring system and will be tracked through the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.”
One of the bills, HB 4517, amends the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act to define THC and modifies the definitions of “industrial hemp” and “marihuana.” The measure also requires the MRA to establish a THC limit on products intended for human or animal consumption. Additionally, the bill allows regulators with the agency to exclude tetrahydrocannabinols from the definition of THC if the MRA determines that they do not exhibit a high potential for abuse.
Democratic Rep. Yousef Rabhi, who introduced HB 4517 in the Michigan House of Representatives, said that the “voters of Michigan chose to legalize and regulate marijuana in the interests of justice and public health.” He noted that regulating Delta-8 THC is a more progressive approach than outright bans on the cannabinoid.
“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,” Rabhi continued. “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.”
Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, applauded Whitmer’s decision to sign the package of bills into law.
“Regulating Delta 8 rather than banning the product is a smart and progressive move that is in the best interest of public health and safety,” Schneider said. “We are grateful that medical marijuana patients will have improved access to their certifying physicians and that state-licensed cannabis businesses will have clearer standards and improved liability insurance coverage.”
A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based freelance writer covering cannabis news, business, and culture.