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State lawmakers look to crack down on delta-8 THC products

Elsa Olofsson
Flickr Creative Commons

State lawmakers are considering criminalizing a weaker version of traditional cannabis, known as delta-8 THC. Members of the Joint Judiciary Committee tabled a discussion this week about how to limit the substance – known colloquially as “diet weed” – in Wyoming.

Delta-8, a less-intoxicating version of marijuana mainly derived from hemp, has grown in popularity across the Cowboy State. Since it usually comes from hemp, it’s technically legal, but products that use it haven’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA warns that delta-8 can be harmful, especially to children and young adults. Symptoms can include vomiting, loss of consciousness and even hospitalization.

Multiple high school students have previously spoken out about it. So, state lawmakers, including Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland) have been discussing ways to outlaw the substance.

“We want to make this product illegal, just so that we can protect and have an opportunity to protect not only the people of the state of the students of the state,” Haroldson said

Others testified against limiting the substance. Sam Watt owns a hemp company and sells delta-8. He said it can be useful for many adults – especially veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorders – and argued against criminalizing people seeking relief.

“This product is something that a lot of people can use, especially our veterans. Because still there is not a whole lot of treatment out there for us,” he said.

Other concerns with delta-8 regulation include potentially harming other industries, like CBD or agricultural hemp production. The Judiciary Committee will likely take up this debate again later this year.

Will Walkey is a contributing journalist and former reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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