A lawsuit filed in Georgia last week seeks to counter a district attorney there who has targeted businesses for selling products with Delta-8 and Delta-10, hemp derivatives that can yield effects similar to cannabis.
The Associated Press reported that an Atlanta law firm filed suit on Thursday after Patsy Austin-Gatson, the district attorney in Gwinnett County, Georgia, “threatened to prosecute businesses selling products with Delta-8 and a related chemical, Delta-10.”
The suit from the law firm, Pate, Johnson & Church says that Gatson “said in January that the possession, sale or distribution of Delta-8 is illegal under state law,” and asserts that the district attorney “has interpreted ‘hemp’ and ‘hemp products’ incorrectly under state law.”
It has also been reported that the suit seeks both “a declaration that delta-8 and delta-10 products are legal,” as well as “a court order enjoining Austin-Gatson and the state from prosecuting business owners for selling them.”
Delta-8 has seen a dramatic rise in popularity in the United States in recent years, after Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp. That has been proven to be a bonanza for cultivators and producers, but it has also left some policymakers at the state level stumped over how to regulate a product that resides in something of a legal grey zone.
As the Associated Press noted last year, that bill passed in 2018 said that hemp products “couldn’t be more than 0.3% Delta-9, but it said nothing about Delta-8.”
The Associated Press, citing data analytics company Hemp Benchmarks, reported at the time that Delta-8 “has been the fastest-growing segment of the market for hemp chemicals for roughly the last year.”
Last year, a number of states instituted new rules – if not outright bans – on the production, distribution and sale of Delta-8 products. Regulators overseeing Ohio’s medical cannabis program unveiled new requirements for Delta-8 products, including a rule that “‘Delta-8 THC’ must be fully incorporated on the package and label for patient awareness.”
“Abbreviations, such as ‘Delta-8’ or ‘D8’, are not permitted,” the state’s Medical Marijuan Control Program said. In New York, the state’s Cannabis Control Board banned Delta-8 THC products in the state.
“The regulations permit cannabinoid hemp flower products to be sold. For hemp flower products to be sold, they must not be marketed or advertised for the purpose of smoking or be in the form of a pre-roll, cigar or joint,” the board said in its announcement last November. “The regulations prohibit the sale of Delta-8 THC products. These products contain intoxicating qualities which are better left to be regulated in the future Adult-Use program. The Office does not regulate Delta-8 THC products available online or in stores today and strongly urges consumer caution when purchasing a product from an unknown source.”
In Michigan, the state’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill into law that placed regulation of Delta-8 products under the regulation of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). That new law took effect in October.
Whitmer signed the bill as part of a package of legislation that she said revealed how Michigan, which legalized adult-use cannabis via a ballot initiative in 2018, “is the model for the nation in regard to protecting its residents and making sure that those who consume marijuana products do so in a safe manner.”
“I am glad to see Michigan continuing to lead on the implementation and regulation of a safe, secure marijuana industry, which has already brought tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the state, as well as thousands of well-paying jobs,” Whitmer said at the time, as quoted by a local news outlet.