House Bill 4517 is part of a package of legislation that will regulate the manufacturing, sale, and distribution of delta-8 THC products much like other legal marijuana products in Michigan
Governor Whitmer has signed a law allowing only regulated delta-8 THC products to be manufactured and sold in Michigan, effective October 11, 2021. The move to regulate, rather than ban, the delta-8 THC strand was supported by the cannabis industry.
Starting this fall it will be illegal for businesses in Michigan to sell delta-8 products without proper licensing from the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (“MMRA”). As we detailed in a previous blog, there are currently no standards for selling or distributing delta-8 THC products, which has led to a number of Michigan-based retailers like gas stations and convenience stores selling unregulated delta-8 items.
These products have not undergone the testing and tracking that is required for other legalized recreational marijuana products in Michigan, including those derived from the more common delta-9 THC strand.
The legislation categorizes all THC isomers of the cannabis plant as marijuana, giving the MMRA oversight capabilities. As of mid-July, the sale of delta-8 products is banned in 14 states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Utah). Delta-8 status is currently under review in four additional states.
The differences between delta-8 and delta-9
Delta-8 THC is a synthetic substance derived from hemp with the only difference being the inclusion of a double bond. The science behind the two compounds is still being researched but the consensus is that due to the location of its double bond, delta-8 binds to the body’s cannabinoid receptors in a slightly different manner than delta-9 THC, resulting in less of a high.
However, there is little research and no reliable clinical trials on delta-8 THC. Delta-9 marijuana products are strictly regulated and subject to stringent testing standards, whereas delta-8 products have typically been produced using unregulated, chemically synthesized cannabinoids that can include additives and byproducts that have not been researched and could be harmful to some consumers.
Impact on businesses
Unlicensed commercial production or sale of delta-8 in Michigan will be punishable by fines starting October 11, 2021. Any retailer operating in Michigan must obtain a state license to sell or distribute delta-8 THC products, which includes mandatory tracking and testing. Only adults 21 and older can legally have or use the compound in the state. The MMRA created a flyer that provides further details.
The Michigan Cannabis Industry Association and the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association both expressed support for the regulation of delta-8 rather than a full ban. The MCMA’s Board Chair Shelly Edgerton told MLive in a July 14 article that the law “takes a giant step toward enforcing the same strict high testing, health and safety guidelines for any product that mimics a cannabis high that is either inhaled or ingested followed by our state’s licensed growers and processors.”
We will continue to provide additional updates on additional developments regarding delta-8 THC, and other issues affecting the marijuana industry in Michigan. If you have any questions, please contact Paul Mallon or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.