NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill that would have effectively made Delta-8 THC products illegal in Tennessee was amended Tuesday to allow the sales but heavily restrict them instead.
Currently, Delta-8 products are legal to sell and consume in Tennessee and most other states because the psychoactive THC is derived from legal CBD extracted from hemp.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Richard Briggs (R - Knoxville) and calls for redefining marijuana, which is illegal in Tennessee, to include hemp and hemp products. Those products would need to have a cannabinoid other than Delta-9 THC, such as Delta-8 in concentrations of more than 0.1%, and Delta-9 THC products with concentrations of 0.3% or less on a dry-weight basis.
The amendment would ban purchasing and selling Delta-8 products for anyone under 21 years old. Retailers would need to see proof of a person's age before selling it, and people will not be able to distribute samples of products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids on public streets or sidewalks, as well as in public parks.
It would make the state Department of Agriculture in charge of enforcing and submitting reports about their enforcement to the General Assembly. The amendment says they will need to conduct random, unannounced inspections at locations where Delta-8 products are sold.
Violations of the law, if passed, would be a Class A misdemeanor.
The amendment would also place a 5% sales tax on top of the regular sales tax for sales of Delta-8 products. Revenue from that tax will be used to regulate the sales of hemp-derived cannabinoid products.
Anyone or any business that makes or sells Delta-8 would also need to get a license from the Department of Agriculture allowing them to operate. It will cost $500 for manufacturers to get a license and $250 for retailers. Anyone who served prison time for a drug-related felony would not be eligible for a license for at least a decade after completing their sentence.
Licenses would need to be renewed annually, and the amendment says manufacturers will not be able to sell directly to consumers unless they get a retailer license as well.
Products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids would also need to be tested after manufacture and before being put into another product. They will also need to have safety warnings that also show how approximately many cannabinoids are in servings of the product, and the total amount of cannabinoids in the entire package.
Edible products will not be able to be sold in servings that contain more than 25 mg of THC or be formed into the shape of an animal or cartoon character.
Retailers and manufacturers would also not be allowed to market Delta-8 products to anyone under 21 years old, such as by using mythical creatures or superhero characters in packaging or other materials.
The amendment also specifically says that employers would be able to continue or establish drug-free workplace programs.
The amended bill would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, if it passes.