An unregulated hemp derivative gets users “high” and the cannabis industry wants government leadership
CLEVELAND – The cannabis industry is a rapidly growing market across the country and in Ohio, which allows its growth to highlight the lack of action by the federal government and its agencies.
Each state is left to its own devices to regulate cannabis. Some states, like Ohio, have strictly implemented medical marijuana programs, while neighbors like Michigan legalized recreational use. Hemp products were legalized across the county in the 2018 Farm Bill, but because hemp is derived from cannabis, groups like the FDA still don’t review or test hemp products.
When products like Delta 8 THC show up, confusion increases.
Both marijuana and hemp come from the cannabis plant. The difference is in the amount of the compound THC found in marijuana and hemp. THC is the compound that gives marijuana users psychoactive effects or makes them “high”. Hemp has less than 0.3 percent THC, which is not enough to produce these effects.
Delta 8 THC is a hemp derivative and has resulted in manufacturers and sellers claiming that it is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. But Delta 8 has a similar but diminished psychoactive effect when compared to Delta 9 THC, it’s a much more common cousin.
“As a mom and a busy woman, I feel like I’m more alive in the moment when I use cannabis or Delta 8,” says Amanda Luckay, who finds a great relief in the product that we are not yet familiar with about. “It just balances you out.”
Cannabis has been around for centuries, but Delta 8 THC is a form of it that really only hit the market last year. Luckay buys much of their Delta 8 from Larry Shor’s Cleveland Botanical Destination, where he believes Delta 8 quickly became a top seller, making up almost half of his money.
“I wasn’t surprised that this would be successful, but I was surprised at how many users in the CBD space it was replacing,” said Shor.
Shor said customers like Luckay use Delta 8 for quasi-medical reasons, but also mostly to feel good and relax, just like other people might have a beer, whiskey, or glass of wine at the end of the day.
The difference is that the federal agencies that make sure that what we put into our bodies is safe don’t test Delta 8 or any other cannabis product because Delta 8 is made from cannabis.
Shor said that’s why he did a lot of research on the companies he sources his products from to make sure they have reliable supply chains and the products are safe.
This is especially important because the US Cannabis Council (USCC) states elsewhere that this is a problem.
“Delta 8 is unregulated, there is evidence that it is contaminated in many ways,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the US Cannabis Council.
The USCC recently tested Delta-8 products sold across the county and found that some of those samples contained heavy metals and too much Delta-9-THC, making it illegal for adult recreational use in states like Ohio Don’t allow marijuana.
“The federal government has to get off the sidelines and get involved and be the umpire and the umpire,” Hawkins said.
He said federal laws of Congress or FDA regulations would involve the tests that ensure that every other product we put into our bodies is safe. Shor agrees, because right now, his research is the only thing standing between his customers and a product that could harm them.
“The reason Delta 8 needs to be regulated is A, consumer safety and B, you need to be able to count on precise dosing,” said Shor.
At the same time, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he was also considering his options.
“I’m not sure I’m buying the sellers, the people who sell Delta 8, their legal research,” said Yost.
The attorney general wouldn’t say much more, but referred to the federal analog statute, which apparently makes illegal substances similar substances illegal as well.
So far, there have been no legal concerns about Delta 8 sales in Ohio, but Luckay points out that a Delta 8 ban wouldn’t keep it out of Ohio.
“People would just end up finding it on the black market or going to Michigan where it’s legal,” Luckay said.
Because federal agencies and the government no longer considered cannabis beyond the 2018 Farm Bill, laws regulating cannabis can vary widely from state to state. This prompted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to criticize the federal government’s split approach to the substance, which bans marijuana at the federal level while allowing states to allow it.
Proponents hope this will inspire Congress to continue one of the bills currently going through the legislative process to create uniform law across all 50 states.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app Now there are more stories from us, as well as important news notifications, the latest weather forecast, traffic information, and more. Download it to yours now Apple device here, and your Android device here.
You can also check out News 5 on Cleveland Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We are there too Amazon Alexa Equipment. Find out more about our streaming options here.