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Georgia sheriff’s office returns delta-8 THC products seized in raids

A judge has ordered the sheriff’s office in Madison County, Georgia, to return $30,000 in product and $3,000 cash to a delta-8 retailer, reports Atlanta-based WSB-TV.

Deputies in Madison County, which sits northeast of Athens, seized delta-8 products from Sahil Kumar’s grocery in November 2021, saying the THC was illegal.

Nothing But Hemp previously reported on similar raids in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in February 2022. A judge there has temporarily ended the threat of more raids as a lawsuit brought by hemp retailers works its way through the court.

Is Delta-8 Really THC?

Yes. On a molecular level, delta-8 THC is very similar to the most well-known form of THC, delta-9. And delta-8 has similar psychotropic effects, though users say it's milder. There is a legal difference. While delta-9 is limited to trace amounts in hemp products, delta-8 and other hemp isomers are not federally regulated.

Delta-8 THC occurs naturally in small concentrations in cannabis plants, but the products on shelves are made by extracting CBD from hemp and converting it to THC in a lab.

Hemp-derived THC has become increasingly sought after because it's legal by the letter of the law. The 2018 Farm Bill and many state regulations restrict delta-9 THC explicitly, and not other THC isomers.

According to the 2019 Georgia Hemp Farming Act, hemp-derived isolates and extracts containing no more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC are legal in the state.

According to the 2019 Georgia Hemp Farming Act, hemp-derived isolates and extracts containing no more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC are legal in the state.

Inventory and Cash Returned

“I had money in my register,” Kumar told WSB-TV’s Channel 2 Action News. “He took cash out of my register, and my cousin was there, and he had cash in his pocket. For two days, I couldn’t sleep, because I’m thinking in my mind, ‘We’ve done something wrong, we’re going to go to jail for breaking the law.’”

Kumar’s inventory and cash were ultimately returned — with the help of a lawyer. His attorney, Devin Rafus, argued that the deputies didn’t understand state or federal hemp law. To support that claim, he showed the judge a letter from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency saying the DEA doesn’t consider delta-8 a controlled substance under current law.

“Because the label has THC on it, law enforcement or the prosecutor’s office thinks it must be illegal because we all think it’s delta-9, which is illegal,” Rafus told Channel 2 Action News.

The judge ruled in Kumar’s favor, determining that the seized products were in fact legal.

Before law enforcement can act, legislators will have to change the law, according to Rafus. “All they have to do is have a Georgia legislator write into law that delta-8 is illegal,” he said. “Until that time, it can be sold, it can be used by individuals in Georgia.”

There’s an effort to do just that on a national scale. The Hemp Advancement Act would change the law to allow 0.3 percent total THC in hemp products, not just delta-9, effectively eliminating the legal marketplace for hemp-derived THC.

So far, the legislation hasn’t moved far. The measure was introduced in the House in early February and is being reviewed by committees. It has yet to see a vote in either House or Senate.

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