Two Democratic Pennsylvania senators, Judy Schwank and Sharif Street, sent a memo to their Senate colleagues April 6 seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would ban sales of delta-8 THC in the state, reports Cannabis Business Times.
They have not introduced the bill yet, but said they plan to do so soon.
Delta-8 is a THC isomer derived from hemp. Like the more well-known delta-9 THC, it has psychotropic effects — though users report those effects are milder than delta-9. Delta-8 occurs naturally in cannabis plants in small amounts, but the products on shelves are made by extracting CBD from hemp and chemically converting it into THC.
Because the 2018 Farm Bill explicitly limits delta-9 THC to trace amounts, in many places delta-8 products aren’t regulated and are sold anywhere from gas stations to tobacco shops.
“What we are seeing right now is a completely unregulated market for these products and they are becoming more popular with each passing day,” Schwank said in an announcement. “I’m particularly concerned about underage teens using these products because we have no clue how they are manufactured. I’ve already heard about high school-age children in my district getting sick after using delta-8 THC, so they are finding ways to access it.”
Schwank noted that the FDA issued a warning last September, saying that “potentially unsafe household chemicals” are sometimes used to convert CBD to delta-8 THC.
Because delta-8 is unregulated and not subject to testing and labeling standards, product quality varies greatly from one brand to the next. It’s important to buy from a brand that posts verifiable test results.
Senator Street said legislators never intended hemp to become a psychotropic compound available outside Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program.
“The omission of delta-8 THC from federal regulation has left us with a legally defined ‘hemp’ product with psychotropic effects that exists outside PA’s Medical Marijuana Program and may be accessible to those under the age of 21,” Street said. “It was never the intent for hemp to get anyone high. It is important that consumers are aware of what they are purchasing, and it is our responsibility as government to ensure safety and consumer protection.”
Bills Threaten Hemp-Derived THC In Several States and Nationally
Many states have passed laws regulating delta-8 THC over the past year, with 17 states reportedly banning it altogether. Lawmakers in other states, including Kentucky, Tennessee and Minnesota, are considering bans this legislative session.
And a bill introduced to Congress in February, the Hemp Advancement Act, could make hemp-derived THC illegal nationwide. The measure revises language from the 2018 Farm Bill that set concentration limits on delta-9 THC, changing the law to limit any and all THC isomers to a trace amount of 0.3 percent. If passed, the act would make delta-8 and delta-10 products in their current form illegal nationwide.
Some in the hemp industry have argued that regulations will address safety concerns more effectively than bans. For instance, limiting sales to ages 21-plus and mandating childproof packaging, in addition to standards for testing and labeling.