By Sophie Nieto-Muñoz | New Jersey Monitor
Lawmakers advanced a measure Monday that would ban delta-8 THC, a chemical compound that is found in marijuana but isn’t regulated under state cannabis laws.
Cannabis experts and parents are concerned that delta-8 products sold at gas stations and corner stores attract children because they are packaged to look like candy.
Michael Gillespie, a Washington Township resident, told lawmakers his 15-year-old son became dizzy after ingesting sour watermelon gummies with 600 milligrams of delta-8 he bought at a convenience store, and later passed out in a forest, prompting a police search.
Gillespie said he was stunned when his son — who had to be taken to a hospital when he was found — gave him the wrapper the candy came in and it looked just like the wrappers for normal candy.
“I was blown away. We had no idea that this was out there,” he said.
Federal officials attributed more than 2,000 accidental poisonings between January 2021 and February 2022 to delta-8.
A 2018 bill passed by Congress led to a rise in legal hemp products, including those with delta-8. No license is required to sell delta-8, which is neither evaluated nor approved by federal or state agencies.
Delta-8 provides a weaker effect than delta-9 — the chemical that gets people high from smoking or ingesting marijuana — but witnesses said Monday that manufacturers are sometimes misleading about how much delta-8 is in their products.
Brett Goldman, chair of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association’s hemp committee, said this “raises a significant public health concern.” Not only do some products contain high concentrations of delta-8, but they also often test positive for other cannabinoids, he said.
“The lack of enforcement by the FDA, DEA, state and local law enforcement enables many more forms of these products than just vapes, including loose flower and pre-rolled joints as well as edibles with packaging that mimics mainstream brands,” he said.
The bill would amend the recreational cannabis law to clarify that delta-8 is illegal except for hemp products with less than 0.3% of the chemical.
After nearly an hour of testimony, the Assembly Health Committee voted the bill forward unanimously. The legislation does not have a companion bill in the Senate.