Hemp Cafe in Chicago. (WTTW News)
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Sales of delta-8 and other hemp-derived snacks, drinks and products will continue unabated in Illinois despite potential safety concerns, after the state legislature adjourned early Wednesday morning without passing new regulations.

Hemp Cafe in Chicago. (WTTW News)
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Starting in July, Illinois would ban the sale of any hemp-derived THC, or delta-8, from being sold, except at state-licensed cannabis dispensaries. That means those products would no longer be sold at breweries, gas stations and specialty lounges and stores. 

Marijuana plants are displayed at a shop in San Francisco, Monday, March 20, 2023. (AP Photo / Jeff Chiu, File)

Alcohol is still more widely used, but 2022 was the first time this intensive level of marijuana use overtook daily and near-daily drinking, said the study’s author.

FILE - Cannabis clones are displayed for customers at Home Grown Apothecary, April 19, 2024, in Portland, Ore. (Jenny Kane / AP Photo, File)
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A proposed rule recognizes the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledges it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs. The plan approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford speaks at a news conference on May 7, 2024. (WTTW News)

Popular shops, bakeries and wellness brands that sell delta-8 THC and other hemp derivatives that have proliferated without the weight of government oversight are now actively seeking state intervention.

FILE - In this Friday, March 22, 2019, file photo, a marijuana plant is visible at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. (Julio Cortez / AP Photo, File)

The move comes after President Joe Biden called for a review of federal marijuana law in October 2022 and moved to pardon thousands of Americans convicted federally of simple possession of the drug.

Products that contain delta-8 THC are pictured next to the original packaging they resemble. (Hannah Meisel / Capitol News Illinois)

New legislation filed in Springfield revives an ongoing debate over delta-8 and other hemp-derived products, which are totally unregulated in Illinois even as the state approaches the five-year anniversary of legalizing cannabis.

(Credit: Elsa Olofsson / Pixabay)

Case tests language of 2020 legalization law

The court heard two consolidated cases of individuals who were in vehicles that were searched after an officer used the smell of cannabis as probable cause. Lawyers argued the smell of cannabis alone should not be probable cause to search a vehicle given that the substance is no longer illegal in Illinois.

Jail personnel go through stacks of letters and books in the mail room at Cook County Jail on Oct. 12. All mail coming into the jail has faced greater screening methods since the paper restriction began in April. (Cary Robbins / DePaul)

Since the beginning of 2023, Cook County Jail administration has reported 16 deaths in custody, with five attributed to overdoses, according to Cook County Medical Examiner records. To address the uptick in overdose deaths, jail leadership took unprecedented measures, including what some called a facility-wide paper ban. 

(WTTW News)
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Products made from delta-8 promise to deliver a milder marijuana-like high. But unlike marijuana, which is strictly regulated and can only be sold in licensed dispensaries, delta-8 can be sold in convenience stores and cafes, and there are no age minimums for purchase.

(WTTW News)

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced the latest timeline and application process for obtaining a cannabis dispensary license.

 A Starbucks worker in Edgewater participates in a one-day strike on Aug. 30, 2022. (WTTW News)

Workers at high-profile companies like Amazon and Starbucks have unionized, as have employees at smaller chains and locally-owned firms. Chicago workers have also been part of the wave. Here’s a look at some of the big developments over the past year.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the opening of Ivy Hall Dispensary in Bucktown on Dec. 7, 2022.

The lag time for shops to open raises the question of whether Illinois has followed through on its pledge to use legal marijuana to lift communities and people who were previously punished by anti-cannabis laws.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx appears on "Chicago Tonight" on Oct. 10, 2022. (WTTW News)

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx believes the federal pardons send a message across the country, “... that we need to move towards decriminalization and ultimately vacating convictions like we have done here in Illinois” 

President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, to travel to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)
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President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, as his administration takes a dramatic step toward decriminalizing the drug and addressing charging practices that disproportionately impact people of color.

A cannabis cultivation facility. (WTTW News)
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Illinois was supposed to be the national model when government leaders pledged they’d use the 2020 legalization of marijuana to right the wrongs of the war on drugs that disproportionately harmed Black and Latino communities. Nearly three years later, those poised to benefit say they’re still stymied.