Many of you may not be aware of changes in the cannabis laws in Ohio. The state permits the use of marijuana for medical use but prohibits it for recreational use. So medical marijuana products are highly regulated by the state and can only be sold in state-licensed dispensaries.
Recently, patients in Ohio’s medical marijuana program noticed a change in the products they used. Now the labels show the amount of delta-8 THC in the products.
A recent article published in Cincinnati discusses new guidance released last week by the Ohio Department of Commerce.
A Quick Refresher About Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC (Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol) is an unregulated cannabis compound. It recently gained popularity due to its similarity to Delta-9 THC, the famous cannabis compound that creates the high typically felt when consuming marijuana.
Delta-8 THC is derived from cannabidiol (CBD). But most of it is acquired from hemp, a non-intoxicating type of cannabis with less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.
People who use Delta-8 say it produces some of the same effects as Delta-9 for pain relief, but it’s not as intense.
New Guidance for Delta-8 THC
Ohio is the only US state to set a THC limit on medical marijuana products. The new guidance says that medical marijuana processors must test and list the level of Delta-8 THC in their products.
The Ohio Department of Commerce regulates processors. So they have the right to prohibit product ingredients. The key priority of the Medical Marijuana Control Program is to ensure that all products are safe for use.
Other Issues Arise
While the guidance was supposed to make it easier for users to identify how much Delta-8 THC is in products, it has created several other issues.
A Legal Gray Area
Supporters say that Delta-8 THC comes from hemp. That means, according to the 2018 Farm Bill, it’s legal.
However, the extra step needed to derive this substance from CBD means it’s synthetically made. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, anything synthetically derived from tetrahydrocannabinol is a schedule I controlled substance. Therefore, it’s illegal.
The agency has not made a final statement on the matter. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is also waiting for their determination.
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Changes in the Guidance
Two changes have been made regarding the presence of Delta-8 in medical marijuana products. It’s confusing many medical marijuana businesses in Ohio.
Firstly, the guidance is said to take effect immediately. However, there is no mention of what businesses should do with products they already have packaged for sale.
A majority of medical marijuana products currently available on store shelves and inventories don’t contain Delta-8 THC on their labels.
The Commerce Department did not offer an answer to this question as of yet.
Secondly, the guidance stated that all THC isomers should be counted in the “total THC.” This includes Delta-8, Delta-9, and all other THC isomers. The problem is that the state law caps medical marijuana products at 70% THC.
Previously, the Commerce Department defined “total THC” as Delta-9 THC and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), a substance that converts to Delta-9 THC during combustion.
So this change in regulations is sure to cause problems. Placing all THC compounds under the label of total THC has left many processors confused.
Problems for Consumers
Besides issues for medical marijuana producers, users are just as disturbed by the changes.
By placing all THC compounds in a product under the label of total THC, processors may not be able to keep their products below the cap. Since Ohio has strict THC limits for medical marijuana products, some patients already have problems finding products to treat their medical conditions.
And now, it will get even more difficult for them because of further restrictions.
Karen O’Keefe is the director of state policies that lobbies for the Marijuana Policy Project. She says that these new guidelines will drive patients to the illicit market. It could cause patients to use unregulated Delta-8 THC products that may not be tested for contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals.
Furthermore, it could also cause patients to switch to other substances, such as opiates.
Medical Conditions That Allow Patients to Use Marijuana
Ohio now has 25 medical conditions that qualify a person to use medical marijuana. Some diseases/conditions include cancer, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, and many more.
Each year, the Ohio State Medical Board accepts petitions from the public for new conditions qualifying for medical marijuana usage.
Last year, the board had added only one condition, cachexia or wasting syndrome. This year, three new medical conditions were approved for medical marijuana, bringing the list to 25.
The board recently added Huntington’s disease, terminal illness, and spasticity to their list. It had received 30 petitions to add the new conditions.
The board requires submissions to include evidence that cannabis can help treat or alleviate the disease. They must also have letters of support from physicians.
For patients to get a medical marijuana card, they must meet one of the qualifying medical conditions that the Ohio State Medical Board lists. They must also have a recommendation from a state-certified doctor. Moreover, the physicians are expected to provide long-term care to these patients.
Delta-8 is a new product that has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. More research is needed to determine how the compound influences the body and brain.
So many important things need immediate attention in the cannabis industry. Joe Moorhead, a spokesman for North Coast Testing Laboratory, said that it doesn’t seem Delta-8 regulations should be first on the chopping block in the program.
The mounting interest in Delta-8 will likely drive more rules and regulations in the coming years. But until everyone gets on the same page, it’s important to remain cautious about the drug.