DEA Emboldens Delta-8 Hemp Businesses By Signaling That The Cannabinoid Is Federally Legal – Marijuana Moment

DEA Emboldens Delta-8 Hemp Businesses By Signaling That The Cannabinoid Is Federally Legal
Michigan Governor Signs Bill Ending Medical Marijuana License Ban For People With Past Convictions
Arkansas Activists File New Marijuana Legalization Initiative For 2022 Ballot
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States are increasingly moving to ban or restrict delta-8 THC products as they gain popularity—particularly in jurisdictions without legal marijuana markets. But as regulators contemplate the legal status of the cannabinoid, officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are signaling that, at the federal level at least, it’s not a controlled substance at this time.
Hemp industry advocates are touting recent comments from DEA representatives who’ve responded to inquiries about delta-8 THC. Officials with the federal agency have indicated to state regulators that only products containing more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC—the most commonly known intoxicating cannabinoid—is controlled, but the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp does not explicitly ban THC isomers.
And so from a federal perspective, DEA seems to be saying that there are no explicit prohibitions on the other, newly popularized cannabinoid. That said, the agency doesn’t control hemp unless it crosses the potency threshold to legally transform into prohibited marijuana. Otherwise, the crop and its derivatives are in the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the latter of which recently issued warnings about possible adverse health effects from delta-8 products.
Hemp businesses are highlighting two recent DEA comments on the issue: one from a letter sent to the the Alabama Board of Pharmacy in September and the other during a virtual town hall hosted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in June. Kight on Cannabis first reported on the remarks.
During the town hall event, DEA Chief of Intergovernmental Affair Sean Mitchell was asked flatly whether the agency considered delta-8 THC illegal.
He said, “what I want to say, and I’ll be very, very deliberate and clear, at this time—I repeat again, at this time—per the Farm Bill, the only thing that is a controlled substance is delta-9 THC greater than 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis.”

In the more recent letter to Alabama regulators, DEA further explained that “cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant that have a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis meet the definition of ‘hemp’ and thus are not controlled under the [Controlled Substances Act].”
The agency said “only tetrahydrocannabinol in or derived from the cannabis plant—not synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol—is subject to being excluded from control as a ‘tetrahydrocannabinol’ in hemp.”
It further clarified that delta-8 THC “synthetically produced from non-cannabis materials is controlled under the CSA as a ‘tetrahydrocannabinol.’”
But what is synthetic THC? After all, delta-8 THC products are most commonly made by synthesizing legal CBD from hemp. According to the letter, DEA considers unlawful “synthetic” THC products to be those that are “produced from non-cannabis materials.”
Some hemp advocates see that as a green light for CBD-synthesized delta-8 THC.

Lukas Gilkey is with the Texas-based hemp company Hometown Hero, which filed a lawsuit last month against the state Department of State Health Services over a recent decision to specifically ban delta-8 THC products. He said in a video analyzing the new DEA comments that it’s “very clear that a lot of the states that are going after delta-8 and other hemp-derived cannabinoids to try and make them illegal are being very disingenuous.”
“I think [state officials] know that the DEA did not have the intent to make these products illegal, and I think they’re trying to put words essentially in the DEA’s mouth,” he said.

Regardless, DEA’s new comments on delta-8 do not undo any state bans on the substance.
FDA, meanwhile, is making clear that it’s aware of the increased market demand for delta-8 THC, but it has yet to move to ban the products.
The agency also announced a plan last month to us “novel” data sources like Reddit to gain a better understanding of public health issues surrounding use of delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD.
Arkansas Activists File New Marijuana Legalization Initiative For 2022 Ballot

Photo by Kimzy Nanney.
Michigan Governor Signs Bill Ending Medical Marijuana License Ban For People With Past Convictions
Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment’s Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.
Michigan Governor Signs Bill Ending Medical Marijuana License Ban For People With Past Convictions
Arkansas Activists File New Marijuana Legalization Initiative For 2022 Ballot
Strong Majority Of Americans Continues To Support Marijuana Legalization At Record High Level, New Gallup Poll Finds
Biden admin can legalize cannabis, congressional report says (Newsletter: November 4, 2021)
New York Marijuana Regulators Approve Rules For Hemp Flower Sales, Delta-8 THC And More
Biden Administration Can Legalize Marijuana Without Waiting For Lawmakers, Congressional Researchers Say
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The governor of Michigan on Thursday signed a bill that makes it so people with marijuana-related felony or misdemeanor convictions on their record are no longer disqualified from obtaining a medical cannabis business license.
There’s an exception for those who were convicted of distributing marijuana to a minor, but overall the legislation is meant to resolve a problem that advocates have identified. Given that people of color are more likely to have been targets of marijuana criminalization in the past, the restrictions on participation in the industry were viewed as discriminatory.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed HB 4295 on Thursday. Beyond eliminating the licensing ban, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Julie Alexander (R), also stipulates that elected officials and employees of federally recognized tribes can obtain a state cannabis license.
Also, regulators “may no longer consider the integrity, moral character, reputation, or personal probity of an applicant in evaluating eligibility for licensure” under the newly enacted law, a press release from the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency says. These restrictions have only applied to medical cannabis operators; the state’s adult-use market does not contained such prohibitions.
The legislation also clarifies that the spouses of people who’ve applied for marijuana operating licenses are eligible to get licensed as well “unless the spouse’s position created a conflict of interest, was within the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), or a state or federal regulatory body making decisions regarding medical marijuana,” according to the press release.
The law takes effect immediately.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Sen. Jeff Irwin (D) filed a similar bill in September, but it did not advance. The senator also introduced legislation that month to legalize the possession and cultivation of certain psychedelics.
Also in Michigan, lawmakers recently approved a series of separate bills to enact restrictions on medical cannabis cultivation by caregivers.
Meanwhile, psychedelics reform has also been advancing in the state.
Detroit voters on Tuesday approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize various entheogenic plants and fungi.
In September, the Grant Rapids City Commission adopted a resolution calling for decriminalization of a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca. However, the measure falls short of what activists had hoped, in that it doesn’t actually change any city enforcement practices and merely expresses support for future reforms.
Elsewhere in Michigan, the Ann Arbor City Council has already elected to make enforcement of laws prohibition psychedelics like psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT among the city’s lowest priorities—and lawmakers recently followed up by declaring September Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month.
After Ann Arbor legislators passed that decriminalization resolution last year, the Washtenaw County prosecutor announced that his office will not be pursuing charges over possessing entheogenic plants and fungi, “regardless of the amount at issue.”
Arkansas Activists File New Marijuana Legalization Initiative For 2022 Ballot

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Another group of Arkansas activists is joining the fight to put marijuana legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot, filing a new reform initiative on Thursday.
Arkansans for Marijuana Reform submitted the proposed constitutional amendment to the secretary of state’s office. It would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to four ounces of cannabis flower, two ounces of concentrates and cultivate up to six mature marijuana plants and six seedlings for personal use.
The state Department of Finance and Administration would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing cannabis business licenses. They would have to issue at least one retail license per 15,000 residents. No individual or entity could possess more than one cultivation and one dispensary license.
The courts would be obligated to provide relief to people with past convictions for possession or sales of up to 16 ounces of cannabis or six plants. However, they would have some discretion as to whether relief constitutes release from incarceration, expungements of past records and/or the restoration of voting rights.
“This is the right thing to do. I think it is a very good middle-of-the-road deal,” Melissa Fults, director of the campaign, told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview. “I think it will serve the consumers, it will serve the industry well and I think it will serve the people that don’t want to be consumers but are concerned about [the market] being the Wild West.”
Arkansans for Marijuana Reform isn’t the only group eyeing the 2022 ballot for marijuana reform.
Late last month, a former Arkansas lawmaker started leading a campaign that also intends to put cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot. Eddie Armstrong, a Democrat who previously served as minority leader in the state House of Representatives before leaving office in 2019, is chairing the newly formed advocacy group Responsible Growth Arkansas. The text of the campaign’s initiative has not yet be released, however.
A separate group of activists with Arkansas True Grass is already in the signature gathering process for a 2022 ballot initiative that would create a system of regulated sales for adults 21 and older, allowing them to purchase up to four ounces of cannabis and grow up to 12 plants for personal use.
“I just felt like I had no choice but to do this,” Fults, of Arkansans for Marijuana Reform, said. “I have fought too long and too hard—and I just felt like this was the only choice I had to get involved and to offer an initiative that will bring money into the state and will create thousands of jobs, but still be fair.”
Under her group’s proposal, individual municipalities would be able to ban commercial marijuana operations from being located in their jurisdiction if there’s a majority vote via a citizen referendum.
The legislature could levy a tax on adult-use cannabis products—but not medical marijuana. There’s no specific tax rate outlined in the initiative, but it does specify that, after covering administrative costs, revenue would be divided between K-12 education and after school programs (50 percent), University of Arkansas cancer research and studies into medical cannabis (40 percent) and the state general fund (10 percent).
Both True Grass and Arkansans for Marijuana Reform attempted to place marijuana legalization initiatives on the 2020 ballot, but both campaigns were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and failed to collect enough signatures by the deadline.
That’s despite a federal judge’s ruling in May 2020 that the secretary of state needed accept signatures that were not collected in-person or notarized due to the excess burdens that arose during the health crisis.
Meanwhile, activists are hard at work across the country seeking to place drug policy reform before voters next year.
In South Dakota, for example, the secretary of state gave activists approval to launch a signature gathering drive to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the state’s 2022 ballot.
Oklahoma activists filed a pair of 2022 ballot initiatives to legalize adult-use marijuana and remodel the state’s existing medical cannabis program.
Nebraska marijuana activists have begun petitioning for a pair of complementary initiatives to legalize medical cannabis that they hope to place on the state’s 2022 ballot.
Ohio activists are collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state.
Florida activists recently filed a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for adult use.
New Hampshire lawmakers are pursuing a new strategy to legalize marijuana in the state that involves putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to decide on in 2022.
Lawmakers in Maryland are also crafting legislation to place a marijuana legalization referendum on the 2022 ballot after the House speaker called for the move.
Missouri voters may see a multiple marijuana initiatives on the state’s ballot next year, with a new group filing an adult-use legalization proposal that could compete with separate reform measures that are already in the works.
Activists in Idaho are working to advance separate measures to legalize possession of recreational marijuana and to create a system of legal medical cannabis sales. State officials recently cleared activists to begin collecting signatures for a revised initiative to legalize possession of marijuana that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot. Meanwhile, a separate campaign to legalize medical cannabis in the state is also underway, with advocates actively collecting signatures to qualify that measure for next year’s ballot.
After a House-passed bill to legalize marijuana in North Dakota was rejected by the Senate in March, some senators hatched a plan to advance the issue by referring it to voters on the 2022 ballot. While their resolution advanced through a key committee, the full Senate blocked it. However, activists with the group North Dakota Cannabis Caucus are collecting signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for the 2022 ballot.
Wyoming’s attorney general issued ballot summaries for proposed initiatives to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize cannabis possession, freeing up activists to collect signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot.
And it’s not just marijuana measures that reform activists are seeking to qualify for state ballots next year. A California campaign was recently cleared to begin collecting signatures for an initiative to legalize psilocybin. And advocates in Washington State have announced plans to put a proposal to decriminalize all drug before voters.
Read the text of the new Arkansas marijuana initiative below: 

Click to access aauaema.pdf

Click to access aauaema.pdf
Strong Majority Of Americans Continues To Support Marijuana Legalization At Record High Level, New Gallup Poll Finds

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Support for marijuana legalization continues to enjoy broad support from Americans, according to a new Gallup poll released on Thursday.
Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults said they back legalizing cannabis in this latest survey. That’s the same percentage that the firm reported for its last poll in November 2020, where support had reached its highest level since 1969. A year earlier, in 2019, Gallup found 66 percent support for the policy change.
Just 32 percent of Americans now oppose legalization, putting support at a more than two-to-one margin.
“As was the case in 2020, solid majorities of U.S. adults in all major subgroups by gender, age, income and education support legalizing marijuana,” Gallup said of the latest results. “Substantive differences are seen, however, by political party and religion.”
Via Gallup.
That said, the new poll shows majority backing for the policy change across all age and party demographics, though at differing levels of strength.
Support among Republicans increased slightly compared to last year, from 48 to 50 percent.
Meanwhile, 83 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents said they back legalization.
83% of U.S. Democrats and 50% of Republicans support the legalization of marijuana. https://t.co/31bxu5K9cR pic.twitter.com/EfP5sJ4cuZ
— GallupNews (@GallupNews) November 4, 2021

Gallup said legalization support saw “particularly sharp increases occurring in the 2000s and 2010s.” The consistent level of support in the most recent editions of the annual survey suggests a possible political stabilization of the issue, but does not necessarily indicate that the policy change’s popularity won’t continue to rise in the future.
“It’s too soon to say that support for legalizing marijuana has reached a ceiling,” Justin McCarthy, an analyst at Gallup, told Marijuana Moment. “We’ve recorded mostly small, incremental annual increases—and in some years, no increase at all—which, from a longer-term perspective, amass to a larger shift in public opinion on the issue over time. Future measures will give a clearer idea of where public opinion is heading.”
Via Gallup.
In 1969, the first year Gallup surveyed on the issue, just 12 percent of U.S. adults backed legalization. Support hit 50 percent in 2011 and 60 percent in 2016. Today, more than two in three Americans support the policy change.
Majorities of every demographic surveyed in the latest poll—with the exception of those who identify as ideologically conservative—said they favor legalization. That includes people 55 and older (60 percent) and those who attend religious services weekly (52 percent).
Among people between the ages of 18 and 34, legalization support is at 77 percent. Eighty-six percent of those who describe themselves as politically liberal are on board.
The survey involved phone interviews with 823 American adults from October 1-19, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
The release of the poll results comes as congressional lawmakers continue to pursue reform. A key House committee approved a legalization bill in September, and Senate leaders are also pushing a plan to end federal cannabis prohibition.
Yet, despite the solid public support for reform, particularly among Democrats, President Joe Biden continues to oppose adult-use legalization. Instead, he’s supportive of more modest proposals to federally decriminalize cannabis, legalize the plant for medical use and let states set their own policies.
While the president is personally against comprehensively ending prohibition, the Congressional Research Service released a report on Wednesday explaining steps he and his administration could take to repair the harms of cannabis criminalization.
Recent state and local polling has also continued to show the public backing broad marijuana reform.
For example, as multiple Pennsylvania lawmakers introduce bills to legalize cannabis, support for the reform is at a record high in the state, according to a new survey.
Marijuana legalization is more popular in Maryland than Biden and the state’s two U.S. senators, a poll released late last month found.
At the national level, Gallup released a survey in August showing that nearly half of American adults have tried cannabis.
Last year, the firm also published a survey finding that about 70 percent of Americans view smoking cannabis to be a morally acceptable activity. That’s higher than their views on the morality of issues such as  gay relationships, medical testing of animals, the death penalty and abortion.
New York Marijuana Regulators Approve Rules For Hemp Flower Sales, Delta-8 THC And More

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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