Connecticut lawmakers face challenges cracking down on delta-8 THC products
It looks like candy, has an effect similar to marijuana and is available at gas stations. It’s a hemp product called delta-8. Connecticut lawmakers want it off the shelves, but at a hearing Thursday, they learned it's not so simple.
Delta-8 and products like it are a growing problem. State Attorney General William Tong recently sued five retailers for selling it. Last week, Wilton police busted a smoke shop for allegedly selling delta-8 to minors.
“The information we were receiving from the community was that youth were being able to successfully purchase this product from this establishment,” said Deputy Chief Robert Cipolla.
Now state regulators are looking to crack down. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is proposing a bill to classify "high-THC hemp products" as "marijuana." That means retailers would need an adult-use dispensary license to sell them.
“All these people went out and got licenses. Supposedly, they're all doing it exactly the way they're supposed to – the way we outlined it. And yet, we have allowed this entire market to flourish,” said state Rep. Dave Rutigliano (R-Trumbull). “We did a convenience store – gas station – on our town. We had 11, right? Eight of the 11 had delta-8 and delta-9 on the shelves.”
But even with the new legal designation, DCP told lawmakers that Delta-8 is nearly impossible to regulate because it's extracted from legal hemp.
“There's a difference between what's on the label and what's inside the product,” said Rod Marriott, DCP’s drug control director. “And getting those tested is a challenge. Sometimes the state police forensics lab doesn't have the certification to test quantitatives, so they can't test how much THC is in there.”
DCP said it is working with local law enforcement to identify stores selling high-THC products, doesn’t the agency doesn’t have enough resources to inspect every store.
To solve the problem, some lawmakers suggested banning THC hemp products from gas stations altogether.
“It seems to me, the easy answer is, the only place you can buy any product with any THC in it is a regulated dispensary in Connecticut,” said state Rep. Mike D'Agostino (D-Hamden). “Period, full stop.”
This is just one of many changes Connecticut could make to marijuana laws this year. Others include packaging changes, a new “cannabis ombudsman,” and expanded limits on billboard advertising.