Sen. Majority Leader Lightford

SPRINGFIELD – Parents across the state continue to receive the call no one wants to receive: the call that their child has consumed delta-8 THC and is being transported to the hospital. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford is spearheading a measure to regulate these pervasive, unlicensed products.

“We are working diligently to protect consumers of all ages, help our cannabis industry flourish, keep the promise to our social equity communities, and not stifle reputable hemp business establishments,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “Effective regulation is about safeguarding public health and fostering a sustainable, trustworthy market.”

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than 11% of high school seniors report using delta-8. In response, Lightford is sponsoring Senate Bill 776 to regulate hemp derived THC, including delta-8 products.

The regulation of hemp derived THC products would be similar to how the state regulates cannabis as it relates to taxing, testing, advertisement and more. While the possession limits would be the same as cannabis, limits would be cumulative with the possession limits of cannabis. Therefore, people could not possess more than 500 milligrams of cannabis or hemp concentrate-derived THC products.

Under the Lightford-led measure, businesses making the products would be required to follow the same guidelines as those within the cannabis industry. Any person working with hemp in a non-intoxicating form would simply be required to register their business and pay a $100 fee.

To ensure equality and fairness, only Social Equity Dispensaries – those that are owned by underrepresented individuals or disproportionally affected groups – would be able to sell these products until July 1, 2026. After that, more businesses could sell hemp concentrate-derived products. The transition is similar to the privilege given to medical dispensaries during the first few years of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

“The current unregulated market undermines social equity license holders who have long worked to establish a legal, well-regulated business,” said Lightford. “As we move toward regulation of hemp and delta-8 products, we must ensure we do so in a way that is equitable and provides opportunities within the evolving industry.”

Senate Bill 776 awaits committee assignment.