North Carolina Republicans are leading the effort to regulate sales of hemp-based products like CBD and Delta-8 to residents under the age of 18.

Both products contain low concentrations of THC, the psychoactive that creates the high of marijuana. Because of that, Republican Rep. Jeff McNeely of Statesville said young people shouldn’t be able to buy the product.

“Research is suggesting that about three-fourths of our youth are finding their way to marijuana by ways of these type products that are in smoke shops, convenience stores – everywhere you go, it seems like,” he said. “Right now they’re unregulated. We have no idea what’s in them.”

McNeely’s bill would require retailers to get a license to sell the hemp products, and they’d need to card buyers to make sure they’re at least 18 years old. 

The regulations also include limits on how much THC can be in the products – which would also be banned on all school campuses.

Usage figures are hard to come by, but cannabis industry analysts say Delta-8 products are a billion-dollar-a-year business in the United States. Interest in the drug has soared in recent years, particularly in states like North Carolina where marijuana hasn’t been legalized.

The bill also includes similar regulations for kratom, another herbal substance that’s used alternately as a stimulant or an opioid substitute. It’s sometimes served as a tea and it’s currently unregulated in North Carolina.

Research from New York University estimates about 2.3 million Americans used kratom in 2020.

Virginia approved its own restrictions on the sale of kratom earlier this year, limiting access to those 21 and older.