Squabble over delta-8 THC helps foil cannabis overhaul in Illinois

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Disagreement over how to handle delta-8 THC – and whether to ban the controversial hemp-derived intoxicating cannabinoid, or regulate it like marijuana – have thwarted broader cannabis industry reform efforts in Illinois.

According to Capitol News Illinois, a marijuana industry reform bill that failed at a May legislative deadline would have:

  • Increased the canopy space for craft growers.
  • Allowed dispensaries to operate drive-thru windows and offer curbside pickup.
  • Offered social equity retail license holders another year to secure real estate.

However, a later version of the bill also included a proposal to regulate delta-8 THC.

Disputes among cannabis advocates over how to address delta-8 THC led to the entire bill being shelved until the fall session, state Democratic Rep. LaShawn Ford, the bill’s sponsor, told Capitol News Illinois.

Ford said he was unwilling to include a delta-8 THC ban in the bill without more input from state regulators as well as industry stakeholders.

Many states with heavily restricted adult-use marijuana industries have struggled to reconcile competition from loosely regulated hemp-derived cannabinoids.

Minnesota, which legalized adult-use marijuana in May, will offer licenses to producers to handle both marijuana and hemp-derived products.

But at least 14 other states have banned delta-8 THC products outright – and other markets are considering doing so – but enforcement is difficult.