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Published on April 12, 2024
Illinois' Intense Debate Over Hemp Products Leads Des Plaines to Consider BanSource: Unsplash/CRYSTALWEED cannabis

As the debate on intoxicating hemp products heats up in Illinois, lawmakers are pushing for a statewide clampdown while some city leaders, like those in Des Plaines, are taking matters into their own hands. The standoff has key players from both sides of the aisle fiercely contesting the next steps for the "Frankenstein weed," as it's been dubbed by Cannabis Business Association of Illinois executive director Tiffany Ingram.

The association has openly called to only allow regulated sales of non-intoxicating hemp products like CBD, effectively shutting down the distribution of Delta-8-THC and other similar substances. Ingram, in a quote to the Chicago Tribune, condemned these synthetically derived cannabinoids, stating, "This is why Illinois needs to push pause on these products." The controversial items are currently available in a variety of retailers, including gas stations and smoke shops, with no age restrictions or testing requirements.

Meanwhile, the Des Plaines City Council is set to debate banning the sale of unregulated, ingestible hemp products. Retailers of these substances, found in Des Plaines and surrounding areas, say they are being unfairly targeted. The Daily Herald reported that the city's police and development leaders have voiced concerns about the unregulated sale of these products, citing them as intoxicating but not subject to the same checks as legal cannabis.

On the other side of the argument, hemp business owners argue they are willing and even eager to meet regulatory standards. Chi'Tiva co-founder Charles Wu is among those who vehemently oppose the proposed ban, seeing it as an elimination of competition. "We want to operate responsibly and on a level playing field," Wu told the Chicago Tribune. "This would put us out of business." Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford has introduced legislation that would allow the continued sale of intoxicating hemp products, provided they are tested, labeled, regulated, and taxed to prevent an underground market from forming.

In the midst of this legislative tug-of-war, Rep. Nick Smith and other lawmakers have voiced support for the ban, aiming to protect consumers and children from unregulated products, with Rep. Eva-dina Delgado pointing out the risks to young people. Violators of the proposed rules would potentially face steep fines and license forfeitures, as detailed in the bill which calls for a committee to recommend safety standards by January 1, with licensing slated for July 2025.