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Mayes: Unlicensed businesses can't sell products with hemp intoxicants in Arizona

Attorney General Kris Mayes said Monday that it’s illegal for businesses, like convenience stores and gas stations, to sell hemp-synthesized intoxicants without a license to do so.

Two Republican state lawmakers requested the opinion from the Attorney General’s Office, citing examples of those products — including gummy bears, vapes and cigarillos — being sold at locations other than dispensaries licensed by the Department of Health Services.

State Rep. Steve Montenegro (R-Goodyear), one of the lawmakers who requested the opinion, said the issue is a matter of public health, noting that they think marketing for those products targets children.

In her opinion, Mayes wrote that hemp-synthesized intoxicants cannot legally be sold outside licensed cannabis sellers in Arizona. Mayes also wrote that the opinion should not be construed as an endorsement of those products, citing emerging public health concerns.

Montenegro is concerned by a potential loophole in existing law. Hemp is a cannabis product with a low concentration of “delta-9 THC,” which is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. 

Industrial hemp is defined as having a “delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.” That definition is meant to separate intoxicating products from non-intoxicating ones.

The law does not address “delta-8 THC,” which is a compound that can be altered to make a highly intoxicating product.

Montenegro sponsored a bill this year to allocate funding to regulate the sale of hemp products, but it didn’t have the support to advance. A separate measure that would require a business selling intoxicant products to verify a client is over 21 has moved through the House with bipartisan support. It would also ban the sale of intoxicant products in the shape of toys, cartoons or anything defined as marketing to children.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct which city Steve Montenegro represents.

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.