Arkansas attorney general defends delta-8 THC ban in court

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A federal court challenge to Arkansas’ ban on products containing hemp-derived, intoxicating cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC should be dismissed in part because state law supersedes federal law – including the 2018 Farm Bill.

At least, that’s the argument Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin made in court filings last week.

Arkansas, which has a legal medical marijuana industry, banned the sale of products containing hemp-derived delta-8 THC as well as delta-9 THC and other synthetic isomers of THC in May when Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed Act 629 into law.

But on July 31, the day before the law took effect, four companies involved in the Arkansas hemp industry sued to overturn the ban.

In their complaint, the four argue that the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production nationwide, overrides any state-level effort to ban or more strictly regulate products containing compounds derived from hemp.

That would include the controversial cannabinoid delta-8 THC, which more than a dozen states have moved to ban or more strictly regulate since its emergence as a popular alternative to marijuana, especially in states with no adult-use sales.

Arkansas’ hemp-product ban also violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause, the plaintiffs claim.

In a response filed Aug. 8, Griffin asked U.S. District Court Judge Billy Roy Wilson to dismiss the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs lack standing and fail to demonstrate irreparable harm.

Moreover, overturning the ban – which state lawmakers said was necessary to prevent the sale of delta-8 THC products to children – “would be of much greater harm to Arkansans,” Griffin wrote in his filing.

The ban “does not ‘destroy the ability to cultivate hemp of any kind,’ it does not ‘create[e] insurmountable confusion,’ and the regulatory scheme is not a ‘sham,’” the filing added.

No additional hearings are currently scheduled, according to the docket report for the case.