The loopholes of the legality of 'diet weed'
People who shop at a marijuana dispensary might see product names like Wedding Cake or Donkey Butter but in the end, all regulated cannabis is what’s known as Delta-9.
Lately, there’s a new concoction called Delta-8 you might see it online, as ‘diet weed’. So named because it’s known to have a ‘lighter’ effect on users
Ryan Rose is a budtender at Lume Cannabis in Big Rapids, he said Delta-8 is like a cousin of CBD.
“It’s derived from hemp and that there is an extraction process that turns it from a CBD into a Delta-8 THC. Very similar psychoactive effects from it but it’s not quite the full experience.”
Rose said Delta-8 has become popular because of its similarity to Delta-9. Users said Diet weed is less potent. And it eliminates some of marijuana’s side effects like paranoia or anxiety.
Rose said it should be regulated.
“People are sending this stuff through the mail, and it is a psychoactive compound. It looks and resembles Delta-9 very very closely so being that there is almost a little gray area with it at the moment. Technically a psychoactive compound but it's completely legal for gas stations, anyone like that can sell it, even though they don’t have a marijuana distribution license.”
In April, the Michigan Poison Control Center at Wayne State University issued a warning about Delta-8. Citing two cases of children who had to be admitted to intensive care, after ingesting gummies that their father purchased at a vape shop.
Rose said without regulation anyone can whip up Delta-8 in their garage, wholesale it, then it's out in the market.
“That process you know it's something that I do believe should be regulated because it's kinda like the wild wild west out there where anyone can do anything to this and if it looks like it then people just assume that it is.”
“There’s a lot of things being sold on shelves today in that industry that need some sort of oversight or regulation to em’ to be sure they’re safe for human consumption too.”
About 40 miles south of Big Rapids, Mount Pleasant cannabis farmer Mike Klumpp said if Delta-8 becomes regulated sales will drop.
“It's going to have to go off all the gas stations shelves and place that it is now. It's gonna have to go through dispensaries. And so, when you start getting that regulated market the barrier to entry there is a lot higher. I just think it's gonna be a little harder, there won't be that quite the volume out there then what there is right now. People are putting D-8 on all sorts of shelves.”
Michigan lawmakers have been working to address concerns around Delta-8. They’ve approved a package of bills requiring diet weed and any other product that mimics a cannabis high to be regulated in Michigan.
Republican representative Roger Hauck sponsored one of the bills.
“All the other bills that are with this package are basically definition changes. It's the different parts of laws that are already in effect that deal with marijuana that’s why there are so many bills in this package.”
The Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association says twelve states have already banned Delta 8, at least temporarily. Three more are considering bans.
The group supports Michigan’s proposed new regulations. The bills are at the governor's desk awaiting her signature.
This story was produced as part of the Michigan News Group Internship. A collaboration between WCMU and eight local newspapers. You can read a print version of the story in the Big Rapids Pioneer.