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Bill would prevent Missouri minors from getting high on delta compounds


A Missouri lawmaker wants to create rules for selling a type of THC derived from hemp that is being sold in stores statewide.

Missouri began approving licenses Feb. 3 for dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana. The state generated over $100 million in weed sales in the first month, with roughly 70% coming from recreational sales. That is more than double what Illinois sold, despite having twice the population of Missouri. 

While the legalization of pot has been big business for the state, there are some loopholes that allow minors to get high through a chemical called delta-8. Delta-8 is a chemical compound found in cannabis plants. Consumers can get high from delta-8 but the effects are not as strong as its delta-9 THC counterpart, which is found in marijuana.  

There are currently no federal regulations on delta-8. Many local dispensaries and gas stations that sell delta-8 have taken it upon themselves to impose their own age restrictions. However, in the state of Missouri there are currently no legal age restrictions to buy delta-8. 

This is something that even caught some of the businesses that sell it off guard. Businesses like Smoke Time, in Columbia.

"Yeah we don’t realize that they like the age limit," Smoke Time employee Omar Alsaham said. "We thought it was 21, so 21 and older. We just assumed it’s 21 age limit for delta-8."

The vast majority businesses like Smoke Time already enforce a 21 and older policy when selling delta 8 products.

State Rep. Kurtis Gregory (R-Marshall) has introduced a bill, HB 1328, that would force the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to regulate these products. The bill would also limit all delta-8 sales to dispensaries with a DHSS license. 

Opponents of the bill say this would allow a “marijuana monopoly” because of the state's limit on how many licenses they are allowed to give out. Currently, Missouri law allows for 338 licenses to sell, grow and process marijuana. These licenses are hard to get because of the high volume of applicants. 

Kevin Halderman, the owner of Hemp Hemp Hooray and Missouri Hemp Trade Association representative says would kill lots of small businesses like his in the state. 

 "It would effectively put me out of business to remove these cannabinoids from my shelf along with several other mom and pop stores. I’ve been working in this industry for over five years, we do a lot of our own testing on products and ensure quality of product. I’ve used some of the mar testing labs in the state to actually verify product. We do a combination of both marijuana labs inside the state and outsource some of these testing results to outside sources too."

Halderman estimates there are roughly five thousand stores in the state of Missouri that are selling some kind of alternative cannabinoids, those products being removed from their shelves would remove millions of dollars of infrastructure and tax money for the state. 

"It’s not a regulation, it's actually a prohibition of our industry," Halderman added. "Effectively what they will do with our hemp defined cannabinoids that are federally legal, is they will redefine those in Missouri as marijuana. That redefinition of those products will remove them from our shelves."

The bill was proposed in August but there is currently no hearing scheduled for it on the House calendar. 

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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