CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Delta 8-THC: it’s a form of hemp that can get you high. It is available at many neighborhood stores and sometimes comes in candy-like packaging.
Because of that, Virginia’s Attorney General is cracking down on Delta-8 products, trying to get them off shelves, especially products that resemble popular candies
Florida mother Morgan McCoy recalled the moment she almost lost her daughter last year.
"I had a mom come out and say we think your daughter may have eaten gummy. And I went in and my daughter was nonresponsive. She was like a rag doll basically."
McCoy says her six-year-old found a bag left by a neighbor. The little girl ate one gummy with 50 milligrams of Delta-8 THC. Doctors say that amount of Delta-8 THC is meant for an adult, often with cancer.
"The packaging itself shouldn't exist. That's like putting Clorox in a Capri Sun bottle."
The CDC reports 140 Delta-8 THC hospitalizations nationwide from January 2021 to August of this year. More than 20 of them were children under five years old. Virginia hospitals tell WUSA9 they are noticing a slight upward trend in pediatric admissions for Delta-8 exposure.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares warned the public about the potential dangers of Delta 8-THC and children.
"Just this morning a family friend reached out to me and said that her son was at Kings Dominion and was offered what looked like gummy bears in the parking lot."
The Attorney General’s Office and the Agriculture Commissioner sent out warnings to cannabis producers of Delta-8 products. They interpret the Virginia Food and Drink Act as giving them the power to ban sales and hand out fines.
This action comes after the Virginia legislature legalized sales of Delta 8 edibles.
Delta-8 is made by taking naturally grown hemp, then chemically altering it to become a compound that can get you high. It's infused into products intended for adults. But now, it's made its way into copycat products that look like popularly branded candies and snacks.
When asked if he felt his Delta-8 products were getting lumped in with the copycat products, KC Honaker of Yeti Farms replied, "you are because it looks like candy. I mean, it looks like it feels like Skittles."
Honaker was one of many hemp vendors at Richmond’s Lucky Leaf Expo. He used to sell Delta-8 products. He says his adult customers like Delta-8’s mellower pain-relieving high. But he stopped selling the product in Virginia after the Attorney General’s warning.
We showed him fake candy look-alikes with Delta 8 THC. We bought them before the AG's ban, at Virginia stores. None of the products had ingredient or serving size information, let alone manufacturer names.
"600 milligrams Delta-8" observed Honaker while reading the label on a Delta-8 product labeled as candy. "It's a lot because number one, I can't, I can't distinguish the different ones in here. But let's say there's ten pieces in here. For a new person to take 60 milligrams at one time if it actually had Delta-8 in it. We tell people to bite our 25 milligrams into four pieces. It makes you sick if it actually has 60 milligrams."
When asked if Delta-8 is dangerous, Dr. Christopher Holstege of the University of Virginia's Blue Ridge poison control center replied, "it's dangerous if I have a dose significant enough that can alter my mind. And that can potentially do harm. So is it dangerous? If I take a large enough amount? Yeah, it is."
When asked if Delta-8 could kill children if taken in too large a dose, Holstege responded, "they're sedate to the point of having problems breathing, where they have to go to the intensive care unit, their vital signs can be off, meaning their blood pressure can be very low."
Holstege added he was aware of no clinical studies into Delta-8's benefits or dangers currently underway.
Federal law offers little regulation on Delta-8, leaving states to make up their own laws. McCoy now champions efforts like her native Florida, regulating how Delta-8 is labeled, hoping to prevent a near tragedy from happening to other families:
"It is all very plain. There is easily spotable warning signs that it is THC, it is not appealing to children. It is plain white and black."
Virginia Food Safety inspectors say they’ve performed nearly 1,600 visits to retail stores around the state since July 1. The warning: sell any Delta-8 edibles and you could face fines.
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