Georgia: The Latest Attack on Delta 8
In the ongoing battle to keep Delta 8 and other cannabinoids legal in Georgia, two vape shops in the state have filed a lawsuit against Gwinnett County District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gaston and the state of Georgia. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment to ensure that Delta 8, Delta 10, CBD, CBN, CBG, and other hemp products remain legal.
The controversy arose after Austin-Gaston issued a statement on January 25th, claiming that Delta 8 and Delta 10 are Schedule I drugs according to Georgia’s Hemp Farming Act (HB 213). The statement led to a raid on Element Distribution, a vaping shop in Gwinnett County, by a multi-agency task force which involved a special response team. Element Distribution claims that around $2 million worth of hemp products were taken from them in the raid. Smoke shops in Catoosa, Dade, and Walker County also encountered similar problems when the Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force began serving papers ordering shop owners to stop selling Delta 8, Delta 10, and other hemp-derived cannabinoids.
What Does The Lawsuit Say?
The plaintiffs argue that these products are already legal under Georgia Code § 2-23-3, which defines legal hemp products as: “all products with the federally defined THC level for hemp derived from, or made by, processing plant parts,” and describes the federally defined THC level as: “a Delta 9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, or the THC concentration for hemp defined in 7 U.S.C. Section 5940, whichever is greater.”
Thomas Church, an attorney working on the case, said in an interview with 11ALIVE News that, “If you look at the language of the Hemp Bill (2019 Georgia Hemp Farming Act) that Georgia passed, it’s very explicit, hemp and all of its extracts, all derivatives, and critically here, all of its cannabinoids, are legal.”.
The lawsuit asserts that the effective legalization of Delta 8 and other hemp-derived cannabinoids is not an unexpected loophole, but was in fact intended by both state and federal legislators. It claims that until now, the sale of hemp products such as oils, flower, topical creams, concentrates, and edibles, has largely gone on unimpeded.
Impact of the Lawsuit
The lawsuit is currently awaiting a final decision that could set a precedent for hemp-derived cannabinoids in Georgia. On March 18th, a temporary restraining order was placed by Fulton County Judge Craig Schwall against Gwinnett County’s District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gaston, effectively preventing her from directing her office or agents to engage in criminal enforcement relating to the sale and distribution of Delta 8 and other cannabinoids. This temporary restraining order is set to last for 30 days.
The controversy over Delta 8 has impacted the hemp industry in Georgia, with many shops pulling their products from the shelf to protect themselves from harmful litigation that could threaten their business. The Plaintiffs of this lawsuit put some numbers to these claims. Sass Group LLC (Bloom Smoke & Vape) reports that the change in policy has cost them over 30% of their income, while Great Vape LLC reports a 60% loss of income.
In conclusion, the recent actions taken against Delta 8 and other hemp-derived cannabinoids in Georgia have caused a stir in the hemp industry. The lawsuit filed by Sass Group LLC and Great Vape LLC seeks to ensure that these products stay legal, as they argue that they are already legal under Georgia law.
The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for the hemp industry in Georgia and other states that may seek to regulate these products in the future. As more research is conducted on the potential health benefits and risks of hemp-derived cannabinoids, it is important for lawmakers and regulators to strike a balance between public safety and individual freedom.