Missouri Sen. Nick Schroer recently introduced Senate Bill 984, also called the “Intoxicating Cannabinoid Control Act,” which if passed would make all “intoxicating cannabinoid products” labeled as cannabis. The bill’s function is to regulate hemp products made with Delta-8 THC, which is currently regulated as hemp and not cannabis. Current problems with this include lack of regulation for how old an individual must be to purchase Delta-8 hemp products, and lack of requirements for accurate testing to be presented on product packaging.
According to the Missouri Independent, Schroer’s concern is that Delta-8 THC products are too easy for minors to get a hold of. “I’ve had constituents reaching out to me saying that their kids had been hospitalized,” Schroer said.
If SB-984 became law, it would require the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to establish regulations that are similar to that of current cannabis law. Rep. Chad Perkins also filed a companion bill, House Bill 1781, in the house.
The Missouri Independent reached out to DHSS regarding a comment on the bills. DHSS spokesperson Lisa Cox said that they have no comments to provide for currently proposed bills, but that “we do acknowledge the potential and ongoing public health impact of unregulated THC products,” Cox said.
Cox explained that DHSS wants to see regulations that protect the public, especially children. “The department has increased its emphasis on regulatory mechanisms that protect health and children in order to minimize any contribution of the regulated cannabis market to such incidents,” Cox continued. “As of right now, there is no such protective framework for unregulated THC products.”
Missouri Hemp Trade Association (MHTA) President Sean Hackman told the Missouri Independent that that’s exactly what his organization seeks to do. “While any overdose report, especially those involving minors, is deeply concerning, this does not constitute a public health emergency but rather an opportunity for improved regulation,” Hackman said in a statement. However, he added that MHTA does not support Delta-8 product regulation through the DHSS or requiring such products to only be sold in licensed dispensaries.
This isn’t the first attempt that legislators have made to tackle the topic of Delta-8 product regulation. Rep. Kurtis Gregory filed House Bill 1328 in February 2023, in an attempt to re-label Delta-8 products as cannabis instead of hemp. “The reason I’m doing this right now is there’s currently no age limits on it,” said Gregory. “I feel like this is operating under a loophole right now.”
The bill unfortunately did not proceed past a public hearing in April 2023 due to strong opposition. Some legislators claimed that regulating Delta-8 products would further create a monopoly, mainly due to inconsistencies in how the DHSS was approving cannabis licenses.
Many applicants seeking a license were denied but are still legally allowed to sell Delta-8 THC products.
Currently, a lawsuit has been filed by a Missouri cannabis manufacturer called Delta Extraction. In August, the Missouri Division of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) was given an anonymous tip that Delta Extraction was allegedly conducting illegal activities. Soon after, the DCR issued an Order of Immediate Suspension that told the company to immediately halt operation, and told all stores to pull 60,000 items from shelves, which included anything made by Delta Extraction. The company’s license was revoked by November 2023.
Delta Extraction attorney representative, Chuck Hatfield, alleges that the DCR doesn’t have the authority to regulate hemp products. “The Division of Cannabis Regulation’s authority to regulate is limited to non-hemp marijuana and does not depend on whether it is used to make THC,” said Hatfield, according to the Missouri Independent. The case is awaiting discussion through an Administrative Hearing Commission, which will determine if regulators have the right to prevent licensed companies like Delta Extraction from infusing hemp-derived THC products into cannabis products produced in the state.
While the case is ongoing, Schroer said that they will continue to monitor the progress. “We’re still going to use this judicial guidance to craft a type of law compliant with that case law, that is going to protect the youth of our state and any type of consumer of these types of products,” Schroer said.
Missouri medical cannabis sales have been running since October 2020, but recreational cannabis was much more recently implemented by way of voters at the November 2022 ballot. Possession regulations were loosened as of December 2022, and the first sales began in February 2023. During the first month, adult-use sales reached $100 million, and by May the state had already surpassed $1 billion in legal cannabis sales.
The passage of Missouri’s recreational cannabis law also states that nonviolent cannabis cases should be expunged from criminal records. The law stated that misdemeanor expungements must be completed by June 8, and felony expungements by Dec. 8. Although these deadlines were missed, the state has expunged almost 100,000 records.
One author of Amendment 3, Dan Viets, told KMBC News that skipping the deadline wasn’t a concern as long as progress was being made. “We have always said that as long as the courts, the circuit clerks in particular, are making a good faith effort to comply with the law, to get those cases expunged, that we’ll be satisfied,” Viets said. “They have not technically met the deadline. But on the other hand, we’re dealing with a century of marijuana prohibition in Missouri. So, there are hundreds of thousands of cases.”