Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine has urged the state’s General Assembly to regulate intoxicating hemp sooner rather than later in order to prevent these products winding up in the hands of children.
Ohioans voted in favour of adult-use (recreational) marijuana in November last year, which took effect on December 7th, 2023. The state also has a medical cannabis program. But a loophole in federal and state laws still allow for the sale of Delta 8 THC products from just about anywhere without having to adhere to either program. Delta 8 THC can be created by manipulating a legal cannabinoid – cannabidiol.
“The intoxicating hemp is being marketed in stores across Ohio as candy, cereal, gummy candy, and other products that are attractive to children,” says the Governor. “Because intoxicating hemp products are not currently regulated, Ohio law does not prevent its sale to children.”
According to the Governor’s office, there have been at least 257 reports of Delta 8 “poisoning” in the state over the last 3 years, with 102 in 2023. Of the incidents last year, 40 involving children under the age of six.
“The current loophole that allows these dangerous products to be sold to children needs to be closed as soon as possible,” said Governor DeWine. “These products are marketed to kids and are made to look like their favorite candy and treats.”
Illustrating how easy Delta-8 products are to acquire, Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Andy Wilson asked two 15-year-old children to purchase Delta 8 gummy candy at a gas station; who were able to purchase THC gummies “with no questions asked.”
Governor DeWine has encouraged retailers to remove such items from their shelves to prevent harm to children. But beyond that, Senator Steve Huffman is working on a bill to address the situation and the governor is asking members of the Ohio General Assembly to quickly pass it.
Unlike some other states, Governor DeWine isn’t looking for an outright ban on Delta 8 products, but just increased restrictions similar to Ohio’s new recreational marijuana laws. These require products to only be sold by licensed retailers to those 21 years old or older, and would also address advertising and packaging that children find attractive.
Governor Mike DeWine recently held a press conference to discuss what he views as the dangers of intoxicating hemp with regard to children. Sharing the podium was Director Andy Wilson, Ohio Department of Public Safety; Assistant Director Lance Himes, Ohio Department of Health and Dr. Gary Wenk, Emeritus Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience, The Ohio State University and Medical Center.