Jonathan Udell, co-chair of Rose Law Group cannabis department, talks to New Times about bill seeking to ban form of synthetic marijuana

By Natasha Yee | Phoenix New Times

Inhale a sweet whiff of your favorite vape pen or fragrant flower and exhale as the euphoric high overtakes you while pungent smoke snakes its way around the room. Delta 9 THC is the main psychoactive ingredient produced naturally in cannabis, the one that makes you feel nice and stoned after a long day at work.

But another cannabinoid, Delta 8 THC, is making its way into dispensaries, gas stations, and head shops. The ingredient’s chemical formula mimics Delta 9, but with differently arranged molecules. While not as potent as Delta 9, it will get you high, though its legality in Arizona is still in question.

Senate Bill 1715, which passed the Arizona Senate on March 15, seeks to make the manufacturing and sales of the hemp-derived compound a felony. The bill, which is backed by the Arizona Dispensaries Association, would ban “hemp-derived manufactured impairing cannabinoids,” including Delta 8.

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Jonathan Udell, the communications director for Arizona NORML, said that businesses like Delta 8 Oils could create a healthy competition with synthetic products in an industry with a high barrier to entry. 
“It is important to have these synthetic products on the market, and that’s in part due to just how anti-competitive our marketplace is here in Arizona,” Udell said. He noted there are 169 marijuana dispensary licenses (and 123 dispensaries) in the state, serving a population of 7.3 million. In comparison, Colorado has 655 retail dispensaries with 5.8 million residents. 

Udell said proper disclosure and regulation are also important.

“We would like to see a disclosure requirement for products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids and dispensaries so consumers know what they’re getting,” Udell said. “And also stopping sales of untested products to the unregulated market, either through just requiring everything to be sold through dispensaries or requiring a similar testing program for other locations.”

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