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Cannabis store owner sues Lancaster County district attorney over Delta-8 product seizure

Delta-8 THC is one of more than one hundred cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant.

It's come under fire since it's often in products made to look like snacks and candy that can potentially cause a psychoactive effect.

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The Lancaster County district attorney says Delta-8 is illegal under Pennsylvania law and recently ordered retail stores and other outlets to turn over the products.

Some of the store owners are fighting back.

Dustin Feldman was at the American Shaman store with his dog, Mason, to buy some CBD treats for his older dogs – one of a number of cannabis products for sale.

"We have tried glycoflex and bunch of other stuff and this seems to work better and gives a little bit more pep in their step," Feldman said.

But the store at Tanger Outlets in Lancaster County no longer carries any Delta-8 THC or Delta-10 THC products for pups or humans.

The store shared a photo from when the Lancaster County Drug Task Force raided it and 42 others in June and seized almost $300,000 worth of products. The district attorney said Delta-8 and Delta-10 are Schedule I controlled substances and are illegal to possess or sell in Pennsylvania.

Store owner Jay Whittle was surprised since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized cannabis plants with less than 0.3% total THC, the compound that causes a high. The bill didn't address Delta-8 THC, which is found in very low levels in the hemp plant. However, CBD can be synthesized into high levels of Delta-8.

Whittle and two other plaintiffs are suing the district attorney in federal court, claiming it was an illegal search and seizure.

"There was no warrant. There was no court involvement. There was just a memo from her office stating that she believed Delta-8 THC – not anything else, just Delta-8 THC – was unlawful to sell," he said.

The Lancaster County district attorney wouldn't talk about the lawsuit. She said earlier, she had received complaints that minors were buying the products.

"I think she probably was getting complaints from police officers that were starting to encounter this," Whittle said.

"In my opinion, it is a gray area of the law," attorney Patrick Nightingale said.

Nightingale is a local director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

He said right now, there's a strong argument that Delta-8 THC is legal.

"Moving forward, it's going to be imperative that Harrisburg and the general assembly address this one way or the other. Is it legal? Is it not legal?" he said.

Just across the river in York, the American Shaman store is selling Delta-8. It has a whole host of products inside.

"All of our Delta-8 joints are on the bottom," store manager Shianne Forsythe said.

Forsythe said the products are very popular.

"Delta-8 normally seems to run out of our shelves first before all of our other products," she said.

Robert Champ plunked down more than $26 for a 10-count bottle of Delta-8 gummies.

"I didn't feel like going through the process of getting a medical card. I use it for sleep and anxiety, some pain issues," he said.

How does it work?

"It works fairly well. It works fairly well, I'd say," he said.

Whittle admits there are bad actors in the cannabis business – some selling products made to look like popular snacks and candy.

"I myself am offended by those types of products that look like Lay's potato chips. That's not what we do, and that's not what the suit is about," he said.

He said he's lost tens of thousands of dollars in business since the raid.

At least 15 states have banned Delta-8 THC.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently said that a form of Delta-8 doesn't meet the federal definition of legal hemp and is considered illegal.

The Food and Drug Administration says Delta-8 has serious health risks and reports 104 adverse events in people who consumed Delta-8 products.


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