LANSING, Mich. — A new bill moving through the Michigan Legislature aimed to close a loophole in the state's marijuana laws.
Delta-8 THC, which has been described as "marijuana-lite," can be sold at gas stations and convenience stores with no minimum age requirement in Michigan or federally.
“A child could go in and buy a delta-8 vape cartridge, walk out, and get high from it,” said Jerry Millen, owner of Greenhouse of Walled Lake, a recreational and medical marijuana dispensary.
A new bill, HB 4517, would expand Michigan's definition of marijuana to include THC, regardless of whether it is artificially or naturally derived.
“Anything that’s intoxicating should be regulated," said Millen. "You should not be able to walk into a party store or a gas station and buy something that’s gonna get you high. Because kids can buy this stuff.”
Lawmakers - in a bipartisan effort - met with cannabis manufacturers and distributors to come up with the bill, which passed the state's House Regulatory Reform Committee this week.
House Democratic Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, sponsored the bill.
“For me, it’s also a public health issue, making sure that this product that’s showing up on shelves is actually something that is safe for consumers to use,” said Rabhi. "Unfortunately in some cases the product, the way that it's derived, can be done in ways that are potentially unsafe."
Similar efforts are underway in states across the country, though in some cases states are opting to ban Delta-8 altogether. Rabhi said he felt a better approach was to regulate the product, subject it to the same rules and regulations that other marijuana products face, and then have it sold it in licensed facilities around the state.
Delta-9 THC, found in most marijuana products, is the cannabinoid molecule that was approved and passed by voters as part of Proposal 1 in 2018, and which was later regulated by the state. Delta-9, like delta-8, has intoxicating effects, but generally the compound in marijuana that will get its users high is delta-9. Hemp, which the delta-8 compound can be derived from, is not regulated in the same way in Michigan.
“There’s so many things that haven’t been discovered that it’s gonna get to the market and they’re gonna be like ‘oh wait! That has got be regulated,’” said Millen.
Millen said the solution going forward was to federally legalize and regulate all things cannabis.
HB 4517 was referred to a second reading in the Michigan House.