Republican lawmakers introduce bill to tax, regulate and ban delta-8 from those under 21

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Republican lawmakers introduce bill to tax, regulate and ban delta-8 from those under 21

Republican lawmakers want to regulate the sale and production of delta-8 after a bill to ban the product wholly failed last year. 

State House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, and Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, introduced a bill to regulate hemp-derived cannabinoid products, like delta-8 and delta-10. 

The legislation comes after a bill to ban the product and another to regulate it failed in the committee process during last year's legislative session. 

What regulations does the bill establish?

The bill has three main parts:

  1. Bans the sale of hemp-derived cannabinoid products to those under the age of 21
  2. Adds a 5% additional sales tax to any product sold at a store
  3. Creates a licensing, quality testing, regulatory and enforcement process through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Why didn't a similar bill pass last year?

Last year, there was a concern among some lawmakers and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that by regulating delta-8 they were legitimizing the industry. 

State senators appeared to favor banning all delta-8 products, while those in the state House opposed it because of the financial implications. A fiscal review by the Tennessee General Assembly found the production and selling of delta-8 provided around $180 million in value to the state.

This left the industry in a legal gray area where it operates essentially unregulated. 

Gray area:'Delta-8' ban, industry regulations stall, leaving cannabis in legal gray area in Tennessee

What about marijuana?

Tennessee is one of 11 states that hasn't legalized the product, decriminalized it or provided a widely accessible medical marijuana system. Traditional marijuana use, sale and possession also remain largely illegal.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, oppose full legalization. Democrats have proposed a bill for full legalization.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are expected to file legislation for more widespread medical cannabis by next week's bill filing deadline.

What lawmakers and the growers coalition are saying

Briggs said he's hopeful that if he can explain the bill correctly, it will have enough support in the Senate to pass this year. 

  • "We need to regulate this because the horse is out of the barn. This stuff is everywhere, and we can't put that genie back in the bottle."

Lamberth said in a statement the bill would provide much needed oversight on the industry.

  • "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. 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."

Kelley Hess, executive director of the Tennessee Growers Coalition, said her organization supports any bill that puts the agriculture department in charge of regulating delta-8.

  • "We support anything that doesn't put burdensome regulations on the industry."

Sexton didn't have a position yet on whether he was for or against delta-8 regulation.

  • "I want to speak to law enforcement and talk to others in the field about it."

The bill is filed as House Bill 403.

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Region: Tennessee

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