Maryland officials warn consumers are left vulnerable by temporary ruling on delta-8 THC

Maryland officials claim temporary ruling on delta-8 THC fails to safeguard consumers

Maryland officials are expressing concern over a judge’s decision to allow the resumption of delta-8 THC sales by hemp vendors, as they believe it undermines consumer safety in the cannabis industry.

In response to a lawsuit filed by hemp interests, Circuit Court Judge Brett R. Wilson has temporarily halted the enforcement of a provision in Maryland’s cannabis law. The Maryland Hemp Coalition and a group of hemp businesses argue that the restrictions in the law violate equal protection and anti-monopoly clauses in the state’s constitution.

Delta-8 is a synthetic form of THC that replicates the “high” produced by delta-9 THC, which is found in marijuana plants. Delta-8 is created by subjecting CBD derived from hemp to a laboratory process that often leads to adulterated products that can be harmful to consumers.

‘Unregulated, untested’

“The Administration was disappointed to learn of the preliminary decision in Washington County Circuit Court allowing for the continued sale of unregulated, untested, and intoxicating hemp-derived products,” said William Tilburg, director of the Maryland Cannabis Administration, in a statement.

The state’s cannabis law, which was passed earlier this summer, required hemp and CBD shops to stop selling products with intoxicating levels of THC derived from hemp, limiting such sales to marijuana retailers. The rules explicitly prohibit hemp and CBD vendors from selling delta-8 products, which are often packaged to resemble popular candy and snack brands and are frequently marketed towards children.

State officials have stated that the new law aims to protect consumers from unregulated and potentially dangerous products. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration prohibits the marketing of cannabis derivatives in food products, and both CBD and delta-8 THC are not approved for human or animal consumption. Additionally, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified delta-8 THC as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

No testing, no standards

Maryland officials argue that Judge Wilson’s injunction hampers the state’s efforts to ensure the safety of THC-containing products, including those derived from hemp. They point out that delta-8 THC, delta-10 THC, and other non-natural THC products are not subjected to testing and lack labeling or manufacturing standards.

While the state continues to seek the dismissal of the lawsuit, the judge’s temporary ruling will temporarily sustain some hemp retailers who claim that the law is negatively impacting their businesses, according to Nevin Young, the plaintiffs’ attorney, as reported by The Washington Post.

Changes expected

Recent court decisions in Arkansas and Texas have also given hope to delta-8 THC producers. However, the long-term future of THC products derived from hemp remains uncertain.

Although those states have protected delta-8 under a strict legal interpretation that highlights a conflict between state and federal laws regarding hemp, anticipated changes at the federal level could reverse this stance, possibly by the end of the year.

Firstly, the DEA has indicated its intention to modify federal drug-control laws to ban highly concentrated synthetic THC products. In February, the drug agency stated that these products do not meet the federal definition of hemp and are therefore classified as controlled substances. Additionally, the 2023 Farm Bill, which is currently under debate, is likely to include a more narrow definition of hemp that excludes such products. The bill is expected to be passed at the end of the year.

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