NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There are two bills aiming to regulate Delta 8 THC in the state legislature, though one would ban the products from Tennessee.
Delta 8 is made from hemp. Some people use it to relieve pain or for other medical purposes but it also has psychoactive effects.
Though it's similar to Delta 9 THC, the compound in marijuana that gets a person high, it's federally legal.
It's fairly easy to find Delta 8 products in Tennessee stores.
It's typically available in smoke shops or CBD and Hemp stores.
As a relatively new product, there's now an effort to regulate it.
"We believe that this can be handled, really in the rule making process. Instead of making arbitrary limits on the growers and the producers and the manufacturers," said Kelley Hess, executive director with Tennessee Growers Coalition.
The group is behind HB1690. It allows for the regulation of Delta 8 by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. It raises the age to purchase to 21 years old and adds a tax to wholesale product.
However, there's another bill being considered this year.
It would prohibit any hemp base products from being sold with THC contents over .3%.
Effectively eliminating all Delta 8 products statewide.
Rep. Will Lamberth is HB 1927's sponsor.
"It's very disturbing when you hear these stories... of a child picking up a product that is not properly labeled, that is not properly inspected, is not properly managed, picking that up and going to the emergency room because it has a very high level of THC," said Lamberth.
The bill also adds on criminal penalties for anyone in possession of Delta 8, as it would now be classified as weed. The bill doesn't cite specific cases or data where children were sent to the hospital or permanently injured because of the compound.
Hess said this isn't the way this should be handled.
A bill like Lamberth's could have a big impact on hemp producers, because it could force them to harvest their crop early to avoid being technically in possession of marijuana.
"It would hurt growers, it would hurt every aspect of the industry," said Hess. "Particularly consumers."
Both Hess and Rep. Lamberth said their goal is to make it so Tennessean's understand what is in the product. HB1690 would give rule making capability to the Department of Agriculture that could make dosage requirements and other rules to keep any edible products out of the hands of kids.
The two bills would impact the state financially in opposite ways. HB1927 would lose the state about seven million dollars in tax revenue.
HB 1690 would have a positive financial impact because of the added tax.
1690 is also further along in the committee process than 1927. The latter is scheduled to appear in committee March 30.