Arkansas Bill calls for a ban on Delta-8 and other hemp products

An Arkansas lawmaker wants to ban the hemp products that have taken over the shelves at gas stations and convenience stores.

Republican Senator Tyler Dees introduced legislation last week that would ban delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10 — legal but underregulated compounds known to produce a high similar to cannabis.

“It’s because of an accessibility issue where you can walk into a regular gas station and buy this product as if you were buying Skittles or any other candy,” Dees told local news station THV11.

Hemp-derived products have become ubiquitous in recent years, especially after Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp production.

However, critics have complained that many of these hemp products have little to no regulation, posing risks for consumers who believe what they are consuming is mostly harmless.

Dees claimed to the station that poison control “is contacted by cases where children are digesting products that cause them harm.”

THV11 followed the state poison control agency, which “said that while there are no concrete numbers on Delta 8 because the data was only collected in January 2021, they are observing an increase in children being exposed to THC products.”

“Any product containing THC is potentially harmful. Whether it’s Delta 8 or Delta 9 or not,” Ari Filip, the Arkansas Poison Control Center’s medical director, told the station. “We fear this has psychoactive effects so it should be kept away and locked out of the reach of children.”

Arkansas voters last November rejected a proposal that would have legalized recreational cannabis in the state.

The state’s Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was elected in the November election, voted against the proposal.

“I don’t think given the drug epidemic that we have in this state, frankly across the country, Arkansas would benefit from having more access to it, so I certainly wouldn’t support that,” said Huckabee Sanders, a former press secretary by Donald Trump, said in October.

Her father, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, has also spoken out against the cannabis industry.

In a video last fall urging voters to reject the legalization measure, Huckabee said that “you’re not the one who’s going to make the money, it’s drug cartels.”

“And if you’re among the people who can sell the drug, maybe you’re making money off the gullible people who somehow convince themselves that it’s perfectly harmless,” the former governor added.

Medicinal cannabis is legal in Arkansas, however, and a co-sponsor of the bill banning Delta-8 and other hemp products, Senator Jonathan Dismang, insisted the measure would not affect that program.

“I mean, you have to have your card and there are benefits that, you know, are for these patients, that’s not the point,” Dismang told THV11. “I mean, a high school kid can go shopping now. Again, I think that’s wrong.”

Arkansas legalized medicinal cannabis in 2016 when a majority of voters approved an amendment authorizing the treatment.

According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, patients with the following medical conditions may be eligible for a prescription for medicinal cannabis: “cancer; Glaucoma; Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome positive status; hepatitis C; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; Tourett syndrome; Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis; Post-traumatic stress disorder; severe arthritis; fibromyalgia; Alzheimer’s disease; cachexia or wasting syndrome; peripheral neuropathy; Intractable pain, ie pain that has not responded to usual medication, treatment or surgery for more than six (6) months; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; and any other disease or treatment approved by the Ministry of Health.”

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