By Michael DeLeon
Marijuana legalization has been one of the most controversial issues in the last few decades. Some were adamant about keeping it a Schedule 1 drug (which it still technically is federally). Some want it completely legal with no limitations and no regulations. Both sides have provided opposing arguments, conflicting data, passionate anecdotes, and blatant lies.
Hawaii and Nevada legalized medical marijuana through their state legislatures in 2000. Colorado went full medical in 2009. The recreational movement was in full swing in 2012 in Colorado and Washington state and it is legal for recreational and medical use, in various capacities, in 47 states for adults 21 years of age and older. What very few people know is that thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, “marijuana” is basically fully legal in all 50 states and there’s no minimum age for its purpose. That bill fully legalized “Hemp” but what the law allowed and what is taking place are two totally different situations!
Federal health officials are increasingly warning healthcare professionals about a rise in adverse events in kids from medicinal and recreational products made for adults, and because of the 2018 Farm Bill, it is skyrocketing among kids and adults nationwide.
Hundreds of reports into the National Poison Data system are related to Delta-8 products, Delta 10 products and “CBD”, leaving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to urge consumers to keep those products out of the reach of kids. There are no laws passed as of yet to even do that, and many of our very lawmakers we’re asking to fix this problem were the very ones that created it.
Delta-8 and Delta-10 are gaining popularity, especially in states that do not have recreational marijuana. These products are cheaper for the consumer, they’re sold everywhere without the pesky limitations of a marijuana dispensary, and they are completely legal. Delta-8 and Delta-10 are cannabinoids that are extracted from hemp, rather than cannabis marijuana. Then they’re mixed with chemicals to become a compound that can get you high. They’re legal in all 50 states under the 2018 federal Farm Bill, basically, if the THC comes from hemp and not cannabis marijuana, and the Delta-9 is lower than .3%. The huge dilemma is that basically NO ONE is testing it, and NO ONE is monitoring it.
These products can be purchased anywhere. There are no federal regulations setting a minimum age! Some stores and responsible retail personnel will ask that the purchaser is at least 18 years old, but in my experience, kids are buying the products directly from gas stations and vape shops. I’ve seen them in rural dollar stores, truck stops, souvenir shops in Orlando, Branson, Myrtle Beach, and Memphis. I’ve seen street vendors with little ‘hot-dog-type” carts selling products in down-town Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, and Austin without even a peddler’s license.
Anyone can buy these unregulated online, and there are no guidelines about labeling and packaging. It is the Wild, Wild West!
There are countless Delta-8 and Delta-10 products that look like children’s snacks. Many of these products look identical to the retail candies so young kids are in grave danger and it was seemingly done with zero regard for their safety.
There is NO accurate nutritional information or an ingredient list, either and since there is no Federal oversight, anyone using these products will have no recourse to recoup damages due to medical illness or death. They’re full of chemicals and they’re not required to even third-party test their products. The user has absolutely no idea what they’re putting in their body.
Healthcare experts and poison control centers are raising concerns. In the first seven months of 2021, the National Poison Data System received 660 reports of adverse reactions in people exposed to Delta-8. About 41% of the calls were unintentional exposure, and 77% of the unintentional exposures were kids younger than 18.
Some of those children were admitted to intensive care units. When they end up in the ICU, it has been because they had to be intubated to help them breathe. Some kids were even placed on ventilators. This is very serious, yet our Federal Government, our FDA, our DEA – even Congress – they’re all ignoring this crisis. Even though some poison control centers are raising concern on what they’re seeing, it’s extremely under-reported as many of these centers are not even keeping data on these substances.
Schools are struggling with these incidents as well.
In early January, two students at Jennings High School in Jennings, MO had to be transported to an area hospital after they ate some sort of gummies at school. They had overdosed and had to be taken to the emergency room.
In Rockdale County, GA, a seventh grader brought Delta-8 gummies to school and shared them with his classmates. The gummies were sold in a packaging that was identical to “Skittles” gummies with the last “s” on the package-name changed to a “z”. The manufacturer printed the name “medicated” in fine print under the “Skittles” name as if a child would know the difference. Seven 6th and 7th graders were rushed to the hospital “overdosed”!
The local newspaper reported that the candy was laced with fentanyl. It wasn’t, but the reporter “assumed” it must have been fentanyl-laced for kids to have overdosed, right? Wrong! People don’t think you can “overdose” on weed. That’s false – Especially KIDS! Many national cable shows picked up the story and reported fentanyl laced candy was brought to school. The kid bought the Delta-8 candies online and had them shipped to his very house.
Critics say a big issue with Delta-8 is that it’s not required to follow the same rules as cannabis. That’s why Delta-8 products can look like children’s cereal or gummy bears. The packaging can be misleading, and people can even sell open items, cookies, in stores.
It’s puzzling why the Legal Marijuana industry is not up in arms. They should be screaming about this because they must follow very stringent guidelines, testing and product requirements. They should be telling people the dangers in consuming products without even knowing what’s in them. It makes one wonder why they are not demanding this loophole be shut down. I personally believe it is because they’re the very people who have created the entire nightmare. Recreational marijuana is legal in some states. Medical marijuana is legal in those states and others. Their markets are limited…. But with Hemp-derived products and the lack of any testing whether the products derive from hemp or not, the THC market is wide-open. Who better to feed that growing beast than the people who have built it since 2000 when Hawaii and Nevada first legalized marijuana for medical purposes. It’s been a long-time coming for them.
Delta-8 and Delta-10 are not FDA-approved and Delta-8 is currently banned or being questioned in at least 19 states, according to CBD Oracle, a cannabis publication. Some states are trying to find regulatory framework for these products. Some states have absolutely no restrictions.
As more states consider Delta-8 regulations, lab tests done by FESA labs — a lab that specifically tests cannabis and THC products — showed that some Delta-8 products on the shelves were 7,700 percent over the legal limit of THC. It does not surprise many health officials since many Delta-8 products do not have any ingredient or serving size information on their edibles or drinks.
It’s not about banning or restricting products that are legal. It’s about making clear what people are ingesting, especially if they end up needing an intervention, like poison control – ESPECIALLY KIDS!
Michael DeLeon is the #1 booked school presenter in America and has presented to 13 million students, staff, and parents since 2000. He has been presenting audience-specific content on vaping and marijuana specifically since 2010 and Delta-8 and Delta-10 since 2017 fighting the lead-up to it’s passing in 2018. He educates on this topic in all 50 states, Steered Straight can be reached at 856-691-6676 or online at www.steeredstraight.org