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New Jersey Lawmaker Takes Aim At Delta-8

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

Dubbing it the "bathtub gin of the cannabis space," a New Jersey state senator calls for stronger regulation of the controversial Delta-8 THC variant.

New Jersey state senator Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth) is introducing a bill to curb the proliferation of THC products containing the enigmatic and somewhat misunderstood delta-8 compound in his home state. As first reported by HempToday, O'Scanlon is joining the ever-growing chorus of concerned lawmakers across the country sounding the alarm bells regarding the sale of products containing the largely unregulated and untested hemp-derived variant.


In 2018 the federal ban on hemp and hemp-derived products was lifted with the passage of that year's Farm Bill. That seminal legislation opened the veritable floodgates of products manufactured from hemp across the country. According to the bill, any part of the cannabis sativa plant containing less than 0.3% delta-9 THC would become designated as hemp and be legal to cultivate and utilize in the manufacture and sale of hemp-derived products. The most well-known and popular of those products is CBD oil.


One of the unintended consequences of the Farm Bill was a loophole it provided concerning other cannabinoid variants. The cannabis plant produces over 100 cannabinoids - the most famous being delta-9 THC. Delta-9 is the THC variant known for producing the "high" many people experience when ingesting marijuana.


However, other variants like delta-8 can be produced from hemp-derived CBD oil using a chemical process known as isomerization. Furthermore, since CBD oil is made from the part of the cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC, the delta-8 variant is technically legal to manufacture and sell.


For lawmakers like O'Scanlon, this has led to an untenable and potentially dangerous healthcare scenario for citizens of New Jersey and around the country. He says, "You can get this stuff online at the gas station, the pharmacy, bodega. It's everywhere now."


"You can get this stuff online at the gas station, the pharmacy, bodega. It's everywhere now."

- New Jersey State Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth)


Additionally, he laments Congress's lack of vision and preparation to foresee this current situation and adequately address the issue. He shares, "There are unregulated, psychoactive hemp-derived products being sold with zero product safety or marketing standards in our communities."


"There are unregulated, psychoactive hemp-derived products being sold with zero product safety or marketing standards in our communities."

- New Jersey State Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth)


O'Scanlon's bill would grant authority over delta-8 to the state's Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which regulates New Jersey's recreational marijuana market.


He is not alone in his concerns over the rapid influx of new and untested products containing delta-8. Late last year, the California Cannabis Industry Association implored federal lawmakers to close the delta-8 loophole to help avoid a potential public health disaster. Likewise, in one case in Virginia, delta-8 consumption has been blamed for the tragic death of a toddler.


Producers point to a U.S. appeals court ruling from last year that bolstered their right to manufacture and sell products containing delta-8. According to that strict interpretation of the Farm Bill, the variant was deemed legal to produce and sell. The judges also noted in their decision that it would be up to lawmakers to correct the problem with additional legislation. The hope is that this year's upcoming Farm Bill will finally close the glaring loophole and eliminate the need for local legislators to create laws to combat the rise of delta-8.


However, O'Scanlon is not optimistic about the federal government taking the appropriate and necessary steps to correct the ever-growing problem. New Jersey is not the only state grappling with the delta-8 quandary. Many others have also tried to address the spread of the potentially harmful variant, with some banning the compound altogether.


The delta-8 controversy is another case of technicalities and clever opportunists taking advantage of a law designed with the best intentions. Hemp is an extremely valuable and versatile plant with numerous applications ranging from construction to biodegradable plastics and from food to legitimate health and wellness offerings.


The actions on the part of a few bad actors should not cast a pall over an otherwise positive and burgeoning new industry. Furthermore, calls to action taken by lawmakers like Senator O'Scanlon are the right and necessary steps toward securing a safer and more legitimate marketplace. Hopefully, in the coming year, Congress will do the right thing and address the delta-8 issue along with other outstanding legal questions surrounding the hemp market and the future legal marijuana industry on the coming economic and legislative horizon.


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