The recent arrest of a store owner in Blair County, Pennsylvania, for selling Delta-8 THC products has sparked controversy and raised questions about the legality of these items. Despite federal and state laws that appear to permit the sale of such products, the store owner found himself facing legal trouble.
Understanding the Difference: Delta-8 vs. Delta-9 THC
To comprehend the legal issues surrounding Delta-8 THC, it’s crucial to understand the difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC is derived from cannabis, a plant that remains illegal in Pennsylvania. However, Delta-8 THC is sourced from hemp, which has been federally legalized by the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.
Comparing the two compounds, store owner Michael DeAngelo aptly explains, “There’s a jalapeno pepper, there’s a green pepper. They’re both peppers, but they’re two different things.” Similarly, hemp and marijuana are distinct entities. DeAngelo emphasizes that his store is not a “pot shop,” but rather a provider of alternatives to harder drugs.
The Legal Landscape in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has taken steps to align its state laws with federal legislation regarding hemp and its derivatives. Senate Bill No. 335, House Bill No. 1899, and Senate Bill No. 936 have legalized all derivatives, cannabinoids, and isomers of hemp in the state, with the exception of Delta-9 THC derived from cannabis.
However, despite the clear language of these bills, the arrest of DeAngelo raises concerns about the interpretation and enforcement of the law by state authorities. State troopers claim that THC is illegal under three state laws, but these statutes fail to explicitly address THC derived from hemp. Instead, they focus on cannabis as the source of THC.
The Arrest and Its Implications
The arrest of DeAngelo, the owner of Our CBD Hollidaysburg, has left him and other business owners confused and worried about potential repercussions. DeAngelo, who had been operating his business for four years without any prior legal issues, was taken by surprise when a state trooper informed him that Delta-8 THC had never been legal in Pennsylvania.
The lack of notice or warning prior to his arrest has left DeAngelo questioning the selective targeting of his store. He wonders why other establishments selling the same products have not faced similar consequences. Furthermore, DeAngelo raises a valid point about the shipment of Delta-8 THC into the state. If the substance is considered a narcotic, why does the state allow its transportation?
Outdated Laws and Conflicting Regulations
Supporters of DeAngelo’s store, such as fellow Delta-8 store owner Danny Rivera, argue that law enforcement may be relying on outdated regulations to justify the arrest. Rivera points to Act 64, the Pennsylvania version of the controlled substances act, which was last amended in 2016. He argues that the Federal Farm Bill of 2018 supersedes this state law and should be the governing legislation for hemp-derived products.
The lack of clarity and the potential conflict between federal and state laws regarding Delta-8 THC contribute to the confusion and legal challenges faced by business owners in the hemp industry.
The Seizure of Inventory and Business Impact
As a result of the arrest, law enforcement obtained a search warrant and seized a significant portion of DeAngelo’s inventory. While some Delta-8 bud and CBD products remain, the loss of inventory poses a significant challenge to the business.
DeAngelo, determined to continue operating, has chosen to keep his store open despite police recommendations to close. However, the limited inventory remaining may force him to close down if he doesn’t recover his seized products.
The Need for Clarity and Consistency
The case of the Delta-8 store owner in Hollidaysburg highlights the urgent need for clarity and consistency in the interpretation and enforcement of laws surrounding hemp and its derivatives. The discrepancies between federal and state legislation, coupled with outdated regulations, create confusion and potential legal risks for businesses operating in this industry.
To ensure the sustainable growth and compliance of the hemp industry, it is crucial that lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, and business owners work together to establish clear guidelines and regulations that align with both federal and state laws.