Delta-8 THC is officially legal in Illinois, but the state’s department of agriculture sees it differently.
A recent hemp policy statement states that growers, cultivators, and infusers cannot chemically synthesize delta-8 from hemp even if they’re licensed by the state.
However, many argue that a policy statement is not legally binding and does not comply or fall in line with existing cannabis law.
With Illinois recently legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis, why is delta-8 now a target?
Hemp-derived delta-8 is legal in Illinois. The state permits the use, possession, sale, distribution, marketing, and production of delta-8 products. The same applies to other THC isomers, including delta-10, HHC, and THC-O.
However, the Illinois Department of Agriculture recently released a hemp policy statement stating delta-8 production is illegal — this is arguably not legally binding.
You can still purchase delta-8 online and through physical retail stores.
Medical cannabis and recreational marijuana are legal in Illinois, as are CBD, CBG, CBC, and other cannabis compounds.
Delta-8 THC Laws in Illinois
Delta-8 THC is legal in Illinois under official state law. You can legally use, possess, sell, distribute, market, and produce hemp-derived delta-8 products.
However, delta-8’s legality in Illinois is now called into question.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture released a hemp policy on March 3rd, 2022, limiting cannabis licensees from chemically synthesizing delta-8 THC from CBD hemp extract.
In the policy it says:
Hemp and hemp derivatives may not be used to concentrate or to synthesize intoxicating compounds including but not limited to delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC-O.
Illinois Department of Agriculture
Many argue that this hemp policy is not legally binding since no Illinois state statute or law prohibits delta-8 or the way it’s produced.
The Illinois Department of Health has yet to respond to our request for more information about this controversial hemp policy.
Why is Illinois looking to stop delta-8?
Since hemp plants do not carry enough natural delta-8 THC, essentially all cannabis producers chemically synthesize delta-8 THC from hemp extract and are now in the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s firing line.
Chemical synthesis is the act of converting one compound (CBD or delta-9) into another compound (delta-8) by altering the molecular structure without adding or removing anything. This conversion process is known as structural isomerization.
Safety and purity concerns surrounding the structural isomerization of CBD to delta-8 have placed delta-8 products in a legal grey area. Pair that with the delta-8 industry’s lack of regulations and it’s no surprise Illinois is taking action.
A previous hemp policy released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 2020 made no mention of delta-8 or chemical synthesis.
As delta-8’s popularity has increased, so too have the delta-8 restrictions, regulations, and bannings across the US.
Illinois legalized delta-8 and all other hemp-derived compounds following Senate Bill 2298 (Illinois Industrial Hemp Act) in 2018, signed by Governor Bruce Rauner.
The Illinois Industrial Hemp Act specifically lifts restrictions on hemp production and establishes a legal framework for the growth, cultivation, and processing of industrial hemp. It also amends the Noxious Weed Act and the Cannabis Control Act, removing hemp and hemp-derived compounds from the definition of marijuana.
Purchasing delta-8 THC in Illinois
Despite the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s recently released hemp policy statement prohibiting the production of delta-8, you can still purchase delta-8 online and through physical retail stores.
We recommend purchasing delta-8 products through safe, credible, and transparent online vendors with legitimate Certificates of Analysis (COAs).
If you’re stuck knowing which delta-8 vendor is legitimate or not, you can find our top delta-8 product recommendations here:
We vet all companies and their delta-8 products properly, ensuring you purchase the safest and most effective delta-8 on the market today.
Can you fly to Illinois with delta-8 products?
Yes, you can fly into Illinois with hemp-derived delta-8 in your possession. State law currently allows the use and possession of hemp-derived delta-8 products. If you choose to fly with delta-8, make sure you contact the airline. Some airlines prohibit cannabis products.
However, you cannot enter Illinois with marijuana-derived delta-8 in your possession.
The federal government controls all state borders and considers marijuana illegal. Importing or transporting marijuana across a state border, regardless of whether the US state legalizes all forms of cannabis, can be viewed as drug trafficking.
Yes, medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Illinois under state law. Medical marijuana was legalized in 2013, while recreational marijuana was made legal in 2018, five years after medical cannabis.
Medical marijuana laws in Illinois
On August 1, 2013, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (House Bill 0001) which went into effect on January 1, 2014, legalizing medical marijuana for patients with certain qualifying conditions such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and multiple sclerosis. This Act pushed Illinois to become the 20th state to establish a program for cultivating and dispensing medical marijuana.
The first medical marijuana dispensaries opened on November 9, 2015, over two years after Illinois’ medical marijuana program first began.
Recreational marijuana laws in Illinois
On June 25, 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 1438, otherwise known as the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA). This legislation ended cannabis prohibition in the state and created a comprehensive framework regulating recreational marijuana use, possession, cultivation, production, and sale.
This Act also marked Illinois as the first US state to legalize cannabis through legislation. All other US states have legalized cannabis through voter-led ballot initiatives. The Act came into effect on January 1, 2020.
Illinois residents above the age of 21 can legally possess up to 30 grams of marijuana flower, five grams of cannabis concentrate, or 500 mg of THC in cannabis-infused products (e.g. edibles or tinctures).
US residents not residing in Illinois can possess half of all these amounts.
Immigrants and non-US tourists cannot use or possess any quantity of marijuana.
Home cultivation is not legal but growing and possessing up to five plants are decriminalized. Home growing is only legal for registered medical marijuana participants under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
Cross-border transport of cannabis is not permitted and punishable under state and federal law.
Before recreational cannabis legalization in Illinois, the state decriminalized and reduced penalties for marijuana possession following Senate Bill 2228 in 2016.
Expunging criminal records for low-level marijuana offenders
Not only did the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act legalize weed across Illinois, but it also created a way for low-level weed offenders to clear their criminal records. This process is also known as expungement.
According to the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender, a state agency providing services to indigent criminal defendants, offenders can have their records automatically cleared if:
Caught possessing or dealing 30 grams of weed or less before June 25, 2019.
The arrest happened at least one year prior.
No charges were filed in court, or the charges were dismissed or vacated.
The weed was sold or given to someone under 18 who was at least three years younger.
No violent crime took place.
On December 1, 2020, Illinois automatically expunged roughly 500,000 low-level cannabis marijuana cases.
You can learn more information on Illinois’s criminal expungement process and if you qualify. For more information on having your record expunged, refer to this guide.
Can you purchase delta-10 THC, THC-O, or HHC in Illinois?
Yes, you can purchase hemp-derived delta-10, THC-O, and HHC in Illinois. There are no Illinois laws directly restricting, regulating, or banning any THC isomer, meaning the use, possession, sale, marketing, and production of these types of products are legal under state law.
Yes, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is perfectly legal in Illinois, provided it’s sourced from hemp carrying no more than 0.3% THC. Under state hemp laws, you can use, possess, sell, purchase, distribute, produce, and manufacture hemp-derived CBD products without risk of penalty or prosecution.
In November 2018, Senator Toi Hutchinson introduced Senate Bill 2298, proposing the legalization of hemp and hemp-derived products (including CBD) in line with the federal Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill). It was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner later in 2019.
The bill also removed hemp and hemp-derived compounds from the state’s Noxious Weed Act and Cannabis Control Act, categorizing them as legal, non-controlled substances.
There are no limits on the quantity of hemp-derived CBD you can have in your possession.
There is currently no official legislation that could change or amend delta-8’s legality in Illinois.
We argue delta-8 is still legal in Illinois despite the agriculture department’s recently published hemp policy statement. The policy is not backed by legislation and isn’t rooted in law. For now, the use, possession, sale, distribution, marketing, and production of delta-8 are legal under Illinois state law.
However, be under no illusion. Delta-8’s legal status isn’t safe. The widespread delta-8 crackdown is infectious and many states are either restricting or banning delta-8 products. If Illinois is to change delta-8’s legal status, we hope the state simply regulates it under the already existing marijuana laws. With regulatory oversight, safer, cleaner, and higher quality delta-8 products can make their way into the market.