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Minnesota expected to reconsider the rules that opened a legal window for delta-8 THC

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Minnesota lawmakers are expected to address rules that inadvertently made the state a hotbed for eating Delta 8 THC derived from cannabis as a result of a measure passed earlier this year.

The measure, which took effect in July, inadvertently created a recreational shadow market for cannabis despite laws restricting the sale of products containing high levels of THC to the state’s medical marijuana program.

Stakeholders and state attorneys said regulatory updates on THC in food can be expected during next year’s legislative session, including those addressing hemp-derived products.

Law intent

The Intentions It’s Minnesota law to force products containing high levels of delta-8 THC — which have proven popular in the state in vapes and other forms — off the market. But with a relatively high serving limit of 5 milligrams of total THC and a maximum per package of 50 milligrams of total THC for eating cannabis, and allowing these products to be sold at popular retail outlets, the market continued.

Studies have shown only children and infrequent users or nonusers of THC products begin to reach a moderate “high” after taking 5 mg, but 50 mg is considered sufficient to raise the level for most people.

Lawmakers are confused

Comments from some lawmakers indicate that they may have voted in favor of the new law without fully understanding its implications.

Delta-8 THC is manufactured by putting hemp-based CBD through a synthetic process. Many US manufacturers see Delta-8 as the solution to a clogged CBD pipeline that was created due to massive oversupply and collapsing prices after the uproar that followed the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized cannabis federally. These producers, who are said to be flocking to the Minnesota market, operate under the logic that CBD made from legal hemp flowers means that Delta-8 production of THC is also legal.

Legal MMJ

Prescription products containing high levels of THC are legal under the 2014 Minnesota Medical Marijuana Act, but recreational marijuana is prohibited. Both medical marijuana and recreational users have reported purchasing Delta 8 products from a rapidly growing number of sellers who do not require a license to sell the products.

The situation has alarmed state-licensed medical marijuana providers, Green Thumb Industries and Verano Holdings, both located in Chicago in nearby Illinois.

Local bans

Delta-8 producers got a jump on medical marijuana operators after the federal legalization of cannabis in 2018 as the gray market developed. Those operators, who operate just 14 dispensaries across the state, were only allowed to sell food at the beginning of this month.

Minnesota’s Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a recreational marijuana law last year, but the Republican-controlled Senate remained opposed.

Meanwhile, some local governments across the state have banned eating cannabis and others are considering banning it.

Landscapes in Minnesota

In other provisions directing Minnesota edible hemp products:

  • The regulatory authority is governed by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.
  • Licenses are not required to manufacture, distribute, or sell hemp-containing foodstuffs and THC-containing beverages.
  • Manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of hemp-based products are responsible for contracting with accredited laboratories in order to certify that their products comply with the standards of the State Board of Pharmacy.
  • Producers are not required to submit lab test results to the Board of Pharmacy but must keep records and show results if requested by the agency.
  • Hemp-derived products that contain THC cannot be shaped like humans, animals, or fruit, nor can they be modeled on products marketed to children.
  • Commercially available candy and snack producers are prohibited from adding THC to existing products.
  • Restaurants, bars, or other businesses cannot add cannabis-derived substances to the foods and beverages they serve.
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