Delta-8 cannabis legislation could have lasting impact on local business

cannabis product from southern sweet leaf
Posted at 6:44 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 10:12:07-04

DICKSON, Tenn. (WTVF) — A local business owner believes a bill to ban many Delta-8 THC products would cost him 10s of thousands of dollars.

Chris Yates of Southern Sugar Leaf has spent a lot of time at the state legislative office building this year. However, he's usually working at the company's building in Dickson.

"Our candy bars, we're fortunate," said Yates. "They fall under the 0.3% rule even if this bill passes."

A big portion of the building where the business operates they call simply "the kitchen." It's where they make Delta-8 and Delta-9 food products.

According to Yates, the products are legal and regulated to some degree by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. But he's worried they won't be legal for long.

Yates is very concerned about a bill that's taken over the THC conversations at the state legislature.

House Bill 1927 would prohibit any products containing THC over 0.3%.

"I think that it's unfortunate, where we're having this conversation, where we're not just having common-sense regulation," said Yates. "Instead, we're just passing a straight ban. Let's just make everything under 0.3%. Why are we banning the vapes?"

Yates said since they mostly work with food, they will still be able to stay open if that bill passes.

He would've much preferred a different bill, House Bill 1690, which would allow the Department of Agriculture to make rules about Delta-8 and would also add a tax to the product so there could be enforcement of the regulation.

That bill died in a Senate committee.

Now, he thinks he could lose 10s of thousands of dollars if the state makes some of his products illegal to possess.

"I would say maybe about $25,000 worth of product. Yeah. For us, me and my wife started this company a year ago with nothing. Literally just a bottle of distillate and a bag of Rice Krispies. That's a lot of money for us," he said.

He's hopeful there's some middle ground made on the bill.

Even so, if the law changes, he said he'll do whatever he can to follow it.

He's asking anyone who cares about this to contact their legislator.

"I think that's what people are going to have to do if they don't want this to happen," said Yates.

He also said his company already regulates and displays the strength of their product on the packaging. That's a complaint some lawmakers have had about Delta-8 products in Tennessee.