HARRISBURG, Pa. — Delta-8, a psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant that produces a high similar to marijuana, is the subject of intense debate across the country and in Pennsylvania.
Products like gummies, sprays and oils can contain Delta-8, and there's a growing concern it could be extremely dangerous.
National poison control centers received 2,362 exposure cases of Delta-8 THC products between Jan. 1, 2021 and Feb. 28, 2022. Of the 2,362 exposure cases, 58% involved adults and 41% involved pediatric patients less than 18 years of age.
Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) along with Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), proposed legislation that would outlaw products containing Delta-8.
"It came from complaints I received from the parents of teens who had purchased vape pens with Delta 8 in it...and they understood their kids were getting high from them,” said Schwank. “It is sold in a way and marketed in a way to appeal to kids with flavors like lemon haze, blue skittles and strawberry shortcake.”
19 states have regulated, restricted or banned the sale of Delta-8 THC products. Pennsylvania is not one of them.
Schwank says she’s spoken to the director of Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana program, who agrees Delta-8 is problematic.
“It’s being sold completely outside of the medical cannabis program," Schwank noted.
The senator says the legislation will hopefully close a loophole manufacturers are exploiting. She also hopes to keep the product off shelves and away from kids.
“In the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp on the federal level, there was a loophole created, because I don’t think they understood that there was a compound that could be extracted," explained Schwank. "My goal ultimately is to make sure that kids are not being exposed to this – are not able to purchase it – and also make sure the products being sold are safe."