ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) – A bill that has the intent of banning Delta-8 products caused discussion both for and against the product on Wednesday.
Sponsors of the bill have repeatedly said the purpose of SB358 is to minimize the risk of children getting their hands on the product. Smart Approaches to Marijuana is a non-profit group that works on policies against marijuana and THC products in the U.S.
According to Executive Vice President, Luke Niforatos, more gas stations are selling Delta-8 products, and they’re unregulated. So, kids can technically purchase the products with no penalty.
Niforatos said over 15 states have already banned Delta-8. He’s from Colorado, and they banned the product last year. When hearing some businesses and consumers speak to the health benefits of Delta products, Niroratos became concerned. Mainly, that they’re not FDA approved and the potential medical drawbacks.
“No one has said that these products are medical or in any way medicinal,” Niforatos said. “We need to let our scientists tell us what medicine is, not entrepreneurs.”
One mother in attendance, Audrey White, spoke against the bill in committee. Her son was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She said buying Delta-8 products has helped him.
“The products with the Delta-8 that he takes, within a week we saw his gut starting to recover. The Gabapentin and Oxy’s make him sick,” White said.
Angela Goodman is the owner of Purely Natural CBD in Bentonville. She attended the House Rules Committee Wednesday. She said she wants to give the consumers and patients that need the product in Arkansas a voice.
The businesses in attendance want a discussion with lawmakers to create regulation on Delta-8, not a ban.
“I don’t personally believe it should be in convenience stores and head hops and liquor stores at all. They’re not trained. We’re trained,” Goodman said.
Goodman personally used Delta-8 to help her sleep. She said one of her customers has seizures. He takes multiple medications with no help. He goes nights without sleeping, and he said he can’t afford medical marijuana. He told Goodman his only solution is Delta-8.
Niforatos said he wishes no ill for the businesses that sell Delta-8 products, but he doesn’t want more drugs in our communities.
“What we really need to focus on is preventing the commercialization of drugs because we have two really great examples of what happens when you commercialize drugs– we have tobacco, we have alcohol,” Niforatos said. “Tobacco is still responsible for over 250,000 deaths of Americans every year in this country. Alcohol is responsible for 100,000 deaths every year in this country.”
According to the Arkansas Poison Control Center, there were 2 cases of Delta-8 poisonings in 2021, 22 cases in 2022, and 5 cases so far this year. All of those were self-reported or reported by healthcare facilities.
A big concern some businesses had, was that the bill would ban CBD products. When supporters were asked, they said CBD products would not be targeted. However, multiple businesses argued that the current language in the bill left some confusion.
The bill’s lead sponsor, State Sen. Tyler Dees, pulled the bill out of committee for clarification. He said he wants to make it clear CBD will not be a target.
The bill is scheduled to be discussed first thing in the House Rules Committee at noon Thursday.