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THC — what’s legal in Pennsylvania and what’s not causes some confusion

LNP investigates inconsistencies

  • Scott LaMar
A proposed bill in Pennsylvania would lower the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

 Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

A proposed bill in Pennsylvania would lower the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Airdate: Wednesday, August 9, 2023

THC is the chemical found in marijuana plants that gets users high.

There are three strains of THC – Delta 8, Delta 9 and Delta 10. THC is contained in some legal products like hemp and CBP.

There seems to be some confusion as to what’s legal and what’s not as businesses that sell the products are getting mixed signals from the federal, state and county governments.

Scott LaMar/WITF

LNP reporter Jack Panyard

LNP’s breaking news reporter Jack Panyard recently wrote about that confusion and joined us on the Spark Wednesday, “Initially, back in April, the Lancaster district attorney brought together a press conference announcing that they had conducted the seizure of more than 7000 items of Delta eight, Delta nine and Delta ten type products from local smoke shops, from local convenience stores, etc.. Ultimately, the value of everything that was seized was nearly $300,000. Got them ultimately from 25 different stores. And they were reminding the community that Delta eight and Delta ten are both illegal in the state of Pennsylvania and that Delta nine is illegal beyond the concentration of 0.3% of THC. So what that ultimately means is these specific strains that people were selling very widely in a lot of these places were, unbeknownst to them, illegal. And there’s a lot of confusion over the law.”

Some of the confusion can be traced to the federal Farm Bill in 2018,”Hemp was made legal widely in the United States in 2018 with the federal farm bill. So the federal farm bill essentially opened the door for farming permits to farm hemp. So hemp has a specific legal definition. It’s a strain of cannabis that has a THC concentration of Delta nine, specifically of less than 0.3%. So that’s how it was defined legally. So of course, this opens the door for a lot of different farmers across the country. And Lancaster, obviously, is the farming Mecca of Pennsylvania. They have a good chunk of the permits of hemp growers in the area. And so everybody goes gung ho about this, right? They start trying to figure out this new landscape. But with that, there were a few gray areas in the bill. For example, the farm bill doesn’t necessarily directly address Delta eight, Delta ten, and it leaves it to states to kind of figure it out. The way it’s written currently in the 2018 iteration. So with that, getting down to Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania has its own Controlled Substances Act and Farm Bill as well, which once again specify hemp is a cannabis plant with less than three 0.3% or less concentration of THC. With that, it starts listing off a handful of specific strains of isomers or the extracts that we get that are illegal, including Delta one, Delta three and four and Delta six.”

Where much of the confusion arises is the different strains of THC were identified differently,”These strains were identified in a bill from 1972. So since then, the way that these chemists number these things and identify these chemicals has changed. So you’re thinking, oh what’s Delta six, or Delta six is Delta eight. If you look at the actual chemical compound, it’s the exact same thing. If you look at Delta three and four, what’s Delta three and four? It’s Delta ten. But has the law caught up to it? Absolutely not. No, It’s still blatantly said specific delta strains that are legal and then it doesn’t say specific things about about other strains. So I want to clarify real quick with what the Controlled Substances Act. It specifies Delta nine and Delta eight is schedule one substances that are illegal. But essentially people are looking into the gray areas in these new farm bills of saying like, oh, there’s there’s no legal foothold here.”

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