A New Jersey state senator has introduced a bill to regulate delta-8 THC, calling the synthetic compound “the bathtub gin of the cannabis space” as he warned many such products might not be safe.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican from Monmouth, lamented that the U.S. Congress has so far failed to clarify the status of CBD and delta-8 in legal and regulatory frameworks, noting “You can get this stuff online, at the gas station, the pharmacy, bodega. It’s everywhere now.”
The d-8 loophole
Federal lawmakers failed to account for delta-8 THC, which is produced synthetically from hemp-derived CBD, when they legalized hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill. Under that measure, hemp-derived products are not subject to the same THC testing requirements as marijuana.
Producers have argued that because the Farm Bill made hemp and its downstream products legal, delta-8 is therefore also legal. A U.S. appeals court ruled last year that a strict interpretation of the Farm Bill makes delta-8 legal, noting that lawmakers can correct that situation with further legislation. With a new Farm Bill due this year, many observers have said the delta-8 loophole will likely be closed.
‘Zero product safety’
“There are unregulated, psychoactive hemp-derived products being sold with zero product safety or marketing standards in our communities,” O’Scanlon told SenateNJ, a state Republican party website. “Ideally, the Feds would resolve this in the 2023 Farm Bill. But I am not holding my breath,” O’Scanlon said.
States all over the USA are grappling with delta-8, which is unregulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Some states have banned the compound altogether while others have put it under rules for marijuana.
The proposed measure in New Jersey would give the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which regulates the recreational marijuana market, authority over delta-8 THC.
Targeting ‘bad actors’
“This legislation would set standards and empower them to create a framework for any mind-altering hemp-derived product, give the state some enforcement power, and let us go after the bad actors,” O’Scanlon said.
Delta-8, which reportedly produces a milder high than the more common delta-9 THC derived from marijuana plants, is made by putting CBD through a chemical process. Opponents have said the 2018 Farm Bill never intended for hemp to be used for products that can be classified as psychoactive, and because the compound is not derived from the cannabis plant in a natural manner.
“It impairs people. It’s a growing problem, and it’s reckless to do nothing about it,” O’Scanlon said. “These substances are not made by hemp farmers. But rather by clever chemists essentially reverse engineering and synthesizing these compounds. They may very well have therapeutic value. But not recognizing the public safety concerns is irresponsible as legislators and local elected officials.”
The California Cannabis Industry Association late last year called for federal legislators to close the delta-8 loophole to avert a potential public health disaster represented by delta-8 THC, noting many such products are frequently adulterated. Other stakeholder groups have also called for reining in the compound. At least one death has been attributed to delta-8 consumption.