RICHMAND, Virginia (WRIC) – As Virginia stops selling marijuana for leisure, lawmakers are cracking down on another widely sold substance that raises security concerns. This could force some stores to close their doors this summer.
Delta-8 is a chemical compound similar to delta-9 THC, the main intoxicant of marijuana.
Despite legalizing limited marijuana storage last year, Virginia continues to illegally sell cannabis outside of medical dispensaries.
Meanwhile, lawmakers say Delta-8 is at gas stations and specialty stores across the state because of loopholes in the law. It is reported that one store owned by a state senator.
Dr. Michelle Pease, an associate professor of forensic science at the Commonwealth University of Virginia, said there are many unsafe products sold under the name Delta-8.
Peace said Delta-8 in nature is found in small quantities in cannabis, which is legally sold under federal law. Part of the problem is that many products actually contain what is legally defined as marijuana. Others are produced synthetically with delta-8 concentrations that are too high and much larger than might be thought on the label.
“You can’t trust the label,” Pease said. “It may also contain all of these chemicals, such as solvents and acids, that would be dangerous to the consumer. Therefore, these Delta-8 products do not pass the quality test. “
The lack of regulation and law enforcement has allowed the problem to persist, Peace reports.
“You trust the store that makes the product to tell you what’s in the product. This fox is watching the chicken coop, ”Mir said.
Meanwhile, poison centers report growth in calls related to Delta-8, many of which lead to hospitalization.
Peese looked at one sample from Roanoke after a two-year-old child ate what seemed like ordinary porridge, and ended up in the emergency room. She said later tests showed that the product was incorrectly labeled and contained delta-9 THC.
Account which began as a way to ban the sale of marijuana foods in certain forms that attract children, is now aimed at solving a much broader problem.
While other states criminalize Delta-8, J. M. Pedini of Virginia NORML said the General Assembly plans to regulate this for the first time by expanding the definition of marijuana in the state.
Pedini said the bill, which received unanimous support in the Senate, would require that these products be properly labeled and tested for potency and purity. This will only allow licensed retailers to sell Delta-8 to individuals 21 and older.
“We are trying to say that these products are unacceptable only in your traditional street shops,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Emmett Henger (R-Augusta). “There will be a mechanism where they can be sold in a regulated licensed market.”
The catch is that the regulated market has just hit a major checkpoint. Republicans in the House of Representatives have rejected a bill that would allow commercial sales of recreational marijuana to begin later this year. Without further action, the Office of Cannabis Control cannot issue a license, a new government agency that will oversee the industry.
When the bill goes into effect on July 1, Henger said Virginia would illegally sell products with elevated delta-8 levels indefinitely. The hanger said sellers who refuse to comply will first receive a warning, but after that the fines may increase.
“I don’t think people will be imprisoned right away, but it could lead to someone who insists on marketing an illegal product,” Henger said.
The bill could affect business as well Dispensary in Richmond, which offers a wide selection of “pure Delta-8 and Delta-10” products.
Sarah Grant, who runs the store, said they set their own standards that go beyond what the law requires. She said they check ID at the door and do not let anyone in until 21 years old. She said they also have a third party that tests all their products and allows customers to access this information via QR codes.
“As part of the community and wanting to see it expand and grow, we want to make sure we put a dot over our I and cross our T,” Grant said.
While she agrees that the industry as a whole needs more regulation, Grant said the bill is on the verge of final adoption by the House of Delegates to force them to close their doors this summer.
Joclien Williamson, who runs a dispensary in Chesterfield, said it would put customers at a disadvantage who use Delta-8 to combat conditions such as PTSD, anxiety and depression, which would push them towards the black market.
“Get a license without us closing the door. You will influence many people who rely on our product to have a quality life, ”Williamson said. “There’s no point in disciplining those who do everything they can.”