State Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) introduced legislation to regulate Delta-8 THC and similar hemp-derived products.
“There are unregulated, psychoactive hemp-derived products being sold with zero product safety or marketing standards in our communities,” O’Scanlon said. “You can get this stuff online, at the gas station, the pharmacy, bodega. It’s everywhere now.”
“I sincerely hoped that Congress or the courts would resolve this. They haven’t, but in their defense, they’ve dealt with a lot since 2019,” he added.
O’Scanlon noted that Congress legalized non-psychoactive hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill signed into law by former President Donald Trump. The Farm Bill has to be renewed every few years. It’s due this year.
“Ideally, the Feds would resolve this in the 2023 Farm Bill. But I am not holding my breath,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have issued warnings about Delta-8 THC hemp products.
The bill is S 3470. There are currently no other sponsors or a companion bill in the Assembly.
Hemp Loopholes for Delta-8 THC
The “Farm Bill” established the interstate commerce of hemp and hemp-derived products. Hemp is a type of cannabis with only contains .3% Delta 9 THC, the cannabinoid that gets consumers high.
Through chemical processes, psychoactive substances can be derived or converted from hemp. Delta 8 THC is the most prominent of these.
Protecting Public Health
O’Scanlon alleged it is creating public health issues.
“This is the bathtub gin of the cannabis space. It impairs people. It’s a growing problem, and it’s reckless to do nothing about it. These substances are not made by hemp farmers. But rather by clever chemists essentially reverse engineering and synthesizing these compounds,” O’Scanlon argued. “They may very well have therapeutic value. But not recognizing the public safety concerns is irresponsible as legislators and local elected officials.”
New Jersey currently has no regulator with authority to create standards for psychoactive hemp-derived products and protect consumers. O’Scanlon’s bill would give the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) authority to regulate and enforce these substances in addition to their responsibilities in building the adult-use market.
“We can’t improve what we don’t measure. This bill gives us that ability to measure and appropriately regulate. It is a common-sense starting point for a discussion on a complex and regularly misunderstood problem. The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission is well-versed in the subject but lacks any legal authority to do anything about the issue. This legislation would set standards and empower them to create a framework for any mind-altering hemp-derived product, give the state some enforcement power, and let us go after the bad actors,” O’Scanlon said.
Other states have begun regulating Delta-8 and other hemp products.
There have been reports from other states highlighting injuries from consuming hemp-derived products.
“It’s very possible for an individual to consume enough of a hemp-derived edible as a regulated, adult-use edible that would result in the same potency. However, one of these edibles will have safety standards. The other will not. One of these edibles will come from a state-licensed facility. The other will not,” he said.
O’Scanlon favored the Jake Honig Act of 2019, which expanded medical cannabis. But he ultimately voted against the Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement And Marijuana Modernization Act (CREAMMA) that implemented the 2020 New Jersey adult-use cannabis legalization referendum. O’Scanlon was against provisions to use tax revenue to help Social Equity license applicants since it would inflate the price of cannabis which is conducive to the legacy market. He has voiced support for medical cannabis homegrow in the past.
Hemp Delta Products Spread
Scientists working for companies have found several fascinating cannabinoids that can be isolated from hemp. Along with Delta-8 THC, there is Delta-10-THC, THC-O, and hemp-derived Delta-9 THC, and likely others.
When the 2018 Farm Bill passed, many believed that hemp and its derivative CBD would lead to a Green Rush. However, many farmers had trouble initially with “hot hemp” that made more than the ridiculously tiny amount of .3 Delta-9-THC.
However, soon after there was an excess of hemp produced by farmers and little consumer demand for it, businesspeople struggling to stay afloat got creative. It led scientists working for such companies to research and find products legally available through loopholes.
Many products were then put on the shelves of legal stores that can get you high as products found in the legacy market. While many are very good, not all of them are top-notch. Many shady hemp products are available at gas stations, convenience stores, or bodegas.