Sen. Majority Leader Lightford

SPRINGFIELD – Delta-8, a synthetic hemp-derived THC intoxicant with serious side effects, often is sold at gas stations and other locations near schools. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford championed a measure to regulate these hemp products, ultimately keeping kids away from its dangerous effects. 

“I am proud of the diligent steps we have taken to protect consumers of all ages, help our cannabis industry flourish, keep the promise to our social equity communities, and not stifle reputable hemp business establishments,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “Effective regulation is about safeguarding public health and fostering a sustainable, trustworthy market.”

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than 11% of high school seniors report using delta-8. In response, Lightford is sponsoring House Bill 4293 to regulate hemp derived THC, including delta-8 products.

The regulation of hemp derived THC products would be similar to how the state regulates cannabis as it relates to taxing, testing, possession limits and more. The legislation would place regulations on hemp processors and craft growers so people know the actual contents of the products they are consuming.

Additionally, under Lightford’s measure, only licensed dispensaries would be permitted to sell hemp derived THC products. However, the bill would allow for the sale of beverages derived from hemp until Jan. 20, 2025 by certain retailers and manufacturers licensed under the Liquor Control Act.

To ensure social equity craft growers and infusers are prioritized, the measure would allow them to process hemp by extracting the naturally occurring chemicals into concentrates. Further, starting July 1, all products made by a hemp processor must be sold to either a social equity craft grower or infuser in order for the craft grower and infuser to sell the product to a dispensary.

“The current unregulated market undermines social equity license holders who have long worked to establish a legal, well-regulated business,” said Lightford. “As we move toward regulation of hemp and delta-8 products, we must do so in a way that is equitable and provides opportunities within the evolving industry.”

House Bill 4293 passed the Senate Sunday.