Lawmakers in Washington are urging a halt to what they describe as intoxicating, synthetically derived cannabis products — after previous bills failed. Lawmakers introduced a measure to ban hemp-derived cannabinoids, including gummies and vapes.
With about two weeks left in the legislative session, Republican Mark Schoesler introduced the measure to ban the products both within Washington's legal marijuana industry and outside it. The products have flourished due to the 2018 federal Farm Bill, which permitted hemp growing.
An alternative bipartisan bill would not only ban synthetic cannabinoids outside of Washington's regulated marijuana market, but also recommend ways to authorize them in the future.
Hemp-derived Cannabinoids in Washington
Over the past year, brands have introduced Delta 8, hemp Delta-9 and other cannabinoids, which is used in vape oil, gummies, and other products.
According to Senator Karen Keiser, “These (cannabinoids) are being sold right now, without any regulation, without any oversight. It’s a public health danger and a threat, and it needs to be removed.”
The push comes with fears dispensaries are having to compete with the ingredients produced from hemp and would push many of the state’s licensed, regulated cannabis growers out of business.
Chairman David Postman stated Washington should regulate ‘intoxicating, synthetically derived cannabinoids’ and pass the bill. “It is our best, and perhaps only, chance this year to get the laws necessary to regulate the burgeoning world of novel and minor cannabinoids,” Postman stated.
Delta 8 and the Debate
While at least 17 states have banned Delta 8 in the past year — industry groups have called on Congress to clarify the law. But there is strong disagreement about whether hemp-derived THC belongs in the regulated adult-use or medical marijuana system.
Delta 8 chemical structure and effects on the body are similar to that of the THC found in cannabis, but it produces less potent effects. Due to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 — hemp can be grown and used in products across the United States. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent THC content.
The Washington Cannabusiness Association penned a letter to the Liquor and Cannabis Board in February requesting that the language of any policy statement not preclude the creation of delta-8 THC through natural processes.
“The focus should be on incorporating all things cannabis into the regulated system in a safe manner, this includes delta-8 THC,” stated Vicki Christophersen, the association’s executive director, in a letter sent to the Liquor and Cannabis Board in late February.“There is a real need for this agency to evolve, to tackle stereotypes and biases against the industry,” she further stated. “It’s too bad that there’s tension between our association and the agency, but we have an obligation to represent our members when they’re concerned.”