Georgia state senators, seemingly baffled by controversial delta-8 THC products, are having a hard time figuring out the best way to regulate them. And, they’re not alone.
First things first: delta-8 THC is a chemical component of the cannabis plant, and although it occurs naturally in very small concentrations, it can produce mild psychoactive effects in some people similar to delta-9 THC (the compound that gets you high).
What’s the problem with it?
New industrial methodologies enable delta-8 THC to be converted from CBD derived from hemp. Products developed as a result of the 2018 federal Farm Bill that legalized hemp are therefore not subject to the same testing requirements as cannabis, creating a legal loophole.
Problems connected to delta-8 THC have mostly to do with the question of safety. It takes a proficient and experienced chemist to ensure the safe conversion of CBD molecules into THC molecules, writes Forbes. Inappropriate or imprecise techniques can potentially result in dangerous impurities in the final product.
So, what happened in Georgia?
Yes! I Mean No! Wait, Pause!
Georgia Senators nearly approved a bill Tuesday that would have limited cannabis-adjacent gummies, oils and vape cartridges being sold in the state. Senators first approved the bill, sponsored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R), and then immediately called for a vote to pause the measure, reported Georgia Recorder. The legislation could be taken into consideration again this week.
“This bill is not a ban. It’s simple for us to add a process for protecting the public by testing, labeling, and protecting minors,” said Kirkpatrick, explaining the amended and expanded version of a previous bill.
“I won’t mention any names, but in this body, I’ve had several people come up to me and tell me that they had chewed a gummy of Delta-8,” said Kirkpatrick, an orthopedic surgeon. “And I’m not going to violate HIPAA, but I will say that people are taken aback by the effects that they get from these products, and in fact, nobody really knows what they’re getting when they have these products. So this for me is a public safety issue. I think we need to be testing and labeling these products and not selling them to children.”
While it appeared that lawmakers were mostly in favor of the measure, Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R) argued that the bill does not propose enough to effectively prevent children from getting their hands on these products. Hufstetler, an anesthesiology assistant, said a constituent expressed concern after their son came home high on delta-8.
“When they’re handing these out in candies and children and teenagers are eating candy, that’s why we had a lot of calls to the poison control line, ER visits, and stuff like that from people who were taking a lot more than they should have,” Hufstetler said. “This bill, by including Delta-8 in there, is the most important part, to me, of the bill.”
Recent Delta-8 THC Developments In Other States
The Kentucky legislature proposed a bill last week looking to ban all forms of “intoxicating products” made from industrial hemp, such as delta-8 THC. The legislation, which expands existing language in the state’s law, is also designed to outlaw other hemp-derived minor cannabinoids like delta-10 THC, THC-O, and THC-P, as per an unofficial copy of the proposal.
The Kentucky Hemp Association highlighted that a ban on delta-8 THC would result in the loss of potentially billions of dollars by Kentucky’s cannabis economy, including growers, producers and retail operators.
The Senate Judiciary Committee in West Virginia recently approved legislation that would classify kratom, delta-8 and delta-10 products as Schedule 1 drugs.
Kratom, a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia, is currently not illegal and can produce effects similar to opioids. Delta-10 THC is also a chemical compound that naturally occurs in the cannabis plant in small amounts, which like delta-8 THC can cause mild intoxicating effects.
The bill will be assessed in the full Senate next week. If turns it passes into law, it would remove these types of products from sales across West Virginia.
Virginia House recently passed a bill that addresses delta-8 THC and also limits THC content to a maximum of two milligrams per package based on an allowable concentration of 0.3%. Many expressed worries that strict limits would remove a lot of non-psychoactive cannabinoid products from the market, writes Hemp Today.
In January, New Jersey senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) introduced a bill to regulate Delta-8 THC and related hemp-derived products.
“There are unregulated, psychoactive hemp-derived products being sold with zero product safety or marketing standards in our communities,” O’Scanlon said at the time. “You can get this stuff online, at the gas station, the pharmacy, bodega. It’s everywhere now.”
The Garden State senator added that he is hoping that Congress or the courts will resolve the issue. O’Scanlon pointed out that Congress legalized non-psychoactive hemp (cannabis with only .3% delta 9 THC) in the 2018 Farm Bill signed into law by Trump.
Despite the controversy around them, interest in delta-8 THC products is on the rise, according to a report by marijuana analytics company Brightfield Group. Demand for these hemp-derived products has skyrocketed over the past two years with sales exceeding fully $2 billion.
Photo: Benzinga edit with images from Visualistka and About time on Shutterstock