Industry group sees Kentucky as national leader on delta-8 regulation

Published 10:44 am Monday, April 3, 2023

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By Steve Bittenbender 

The Center Square

A hemp industry trade group has hailed a new Kentucky law regulating delta-8 products as landmark legislation they hope can be copied in other states.

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Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear signed House Bill 544 into law, creating a framework for selling products featuring the hemp-based derivative. The law comes on the heels of an executive order the Democratic governor signed last year regarding delta-8.

The chemical compound produces a high, but it’s not nearly as potent as the delta-9 compound found in marijuana. Under the new law, no one under the age of 21 would be able to buy the product.

“It’s going to require it to be behind the counter or in a secure cabinet, and it’s going to require labeling and batch testing to look for those dangerous residuals that can be left behind,” said state Rep. Rebecca Raymer, R-Mograntown, who sponsored the bill.

Jonathan Miller, general counsel for The U.S. Hemp Roundtable, said many hemp farmers who had been unable to sell their crops found “a lifeline” to stay in business thanks to delta-8.

“They’ve been able to convert the CBD biomass into delta-8, and it’s become an economic advantage for them,” said Miller, who previously served as the Kentucky State Treasurer.

He added the organization hopes more states will look into what Kentucky is doing rather than pursuing bans, which have been proposed in states like Texas – although opponents to the ban there have argued it’s helped people deal with chronic pain and other health issues.

Even Kentucky lawmakers considered banning delta-8 last year, and Miller said the group was “pleasantly surprised and extremely pleased” to see the 180-degree turn.

Not only has the Kentucky General Assembly now addressed delta-8, but lawmakers may pass a bill that would legalize medical marijuana later this week. Earlier this month, such legislation passed in the Senate for the first time. It now goes to the House, where bills have passed there in previous years.

House lawmakers would need to pass Senate Bill 47 before the session ends on Thursday.

Beshear, in a statement last week, said that the state’s delta-8 regulations would stand as a “template” for its medical marijuana guidelines.

“We want Kentuckians to have access to the resources they need for relief. We want to make sure they can do that safely, and this bill is a good first step.”