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As state debates ban on legal 'weed lite,' Scott city considers its own move

WINCHESTER — As Illinois lawmakers debate banning sales of delta-8 THC — a legal cousin to the euphoria-causing chemical in marijuana — the police chief of this Scott County city hopes his town won't wait.

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Chief Steve Doolin worries that delta-8-infused gummies, candies and other items popping up at gas stations could become a precursor to marijuana use. Although delta-8 products can produce a similar high, it is not as intense as marijuana. That has earned it names such as "diet pot" and "weed lite."

Products containing delta-8 THC are displayed next to the snacks and candies they resemble.

Hannah Meisel/Capitol News Illinois

Unlike marijuana, which contains delta-9 THC, it's also not against federal law or regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"If you see the packaging and stuff, it’s geared to grab kids' attention, and we don’t like that," Doolin said.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that more than 11% of high school seniors say they use delta-8 products.

The FDA said it has been receiving reports of adverse events from delta-8 THC use, including hallucinations, anxiety, confusion and loss of consciousness. National poison control centers received more than 2,300 delta-8-related calls in 2022, according to the FDA.

Doolin said he has provided City Council members with information about the substance. Some had asked him about it after two people were arrested for breaking into a convenience store in town to steal delta-8 products.

"They don’t have any knowledge to what this stuff is and what it does so I was just providing that information to them," he said.

Doolin told council members some cities in Illinois, such as Antioch, ban stores with tobacco and liquor licenses from selling delta-8 THC products. 

“I don’t believe that would be a fair thing to do, but it was an example to get the discussion started," he said. 

Cannabis Business Association of Illinois Executive Director Tiffany Ingram holds up a bag of Fritos corn chips and a similar-looking bag of “Fritos” snacks with small cannabis leaves on it. The group is supporting state efforts to prohibit sales of delta-8 THC products.

Illinois legislators have been debating how to close a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized production and sale of CBD products with less than 0.3% THC.

Seventeen states have moved to ban delta-8 THC; seven others have severely restricted such products.

Senate Bill 3926 would subject Illinois businesses caught selling delta-8 products to fines of up to $10,000.

Efforts are getting support from groups including the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, which said unregulated products are causing people to get sick and are targeting young people.

Executive Director Tiffany Ingram, speaking last month at a news conference in Springfield, displayed a table filled with snacks and candies she said were trying to mimic popular snacks.

State Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, D-Chicago, told Capitol News Illinois that her 15-year-old daughter has said delta-8 products are easily accessible to teens.

"As a parent, there is nothing more scary than to hear stories from your child about how kids are ‘greening out' [slang for a cannabis overdose, which includes symptoms such as vomiting and feeling faint]," she told the news service. "And when I asked her questions like, ‘Hey, are these kids getting the supply from their parents?’ she says, ‘Oh no, we just go to the corner store'."



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