Douglas County’s top prosecutor says her office has not yet issued any notices for violating laws regulating the sale of certain forms of THC products, and Lawrence business owners would like to keep it that way.
District Attorney Suzanne Valdez issued a statement last week saying it is illegal to possess or sell Delta-8 THC in Kansas, but there is an exception when the substance is made from industrial hemp that contains no more than .3% total tetrahydrocannabinols.
Thus far, it appears that Delta-8 products on the shelves of Lawrence stores mostly fall within the legal guidelines.
“Industrial hemp remains legal in the State of Kansas,” said Sean Pickett, attorney for CBD American Shaman, a nationwide franchise with two locations in Lawrence. “… The current status of the law has not changed. For us it’s just business as usual.”
Pickett said he had spoken with Valdez regarding her statement and understood that while her main concern was compliance with legal guidelines, she was also seeking to curtail misleading advertisement.
“As more businesses began posting signage advertising the sale of Delta-8 products, it appeared that there was a great deal of confusion and misinformation as to the current state of the law,” Valdez said. “I wanted to provide clarity as to the position of my office. This office’s intent is to encourage compliance with applicable laws pertaining to the marketing and sale of Delta-8 products.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated or approved Delta-8 as safe, nor does it regulate Delta-8 products. The FDA reports that national poison control centers received nearly 2,500 calls regarding Delta-8 products from January 2021 through February 2022. Many of these calls were associated with unintentional ingestion, but a greater concern is the lack of control over how industrial hemp is processed to create THC concentrations required to achieve the desired effect.
Lawrence pharmacist Dustin Hothan said he shared this concern, which prompted him to research Delta-8 before deciding to stock it at his shop, CBD of Lawrence, 4821 W. Sixth St. Hothan said he had been studying the benefits of CBD and related products since 2016, but when Delta-8 came to Lawrence in 2021, he was skeptical about its safety and benefits.
“It worried me for a while,” Hothan said. “I held off until I saw some studies and reputable companies doing it. I talked to local manufacturers and decided let’s go down this avenue and see where it leads.”
Hothan said that although CBD of Lawrence doesn’t produce its own Delta-8 products, he has a stringent set of production criteria including safety, content, process procedures and testing, that must be satisfied before he is willing to carry a product.
Reputable sources for Delta-8 products, however, can be tricky to find. Hothan recommends that buyers either ask proprietors for certificates of analysis on the products they stock or check online to see if the company producing the product lists the information online.
Hothan said researching producers and distributors, including online reviews, is also a good idea. For example, he said, reputable producers who provide chemical information should be able to show that it comes from a third party rather than “in-house” analysis.
“They should list the cannabinoid content in the product, as well as have testing for residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals etc.,” he said via email. “I won’t bring a product in unless I’ve seen every bit of lab work.”
He said the store has brought in products before, but turned around and dumped them after finding negative reviews, ranging anywhere from poor quality control to falsifying lab reports or certificates of analysis.
“So even the best research and apparent labs are not always a sure sign,” he said. “That’s why we try to be diligent in making sure the companies we bring in are well known and have a proven process.”
Hothan said retailers should be able to identify the sources of their products, and “if the company producing these products is legitimate, they can tell you where your batch came from and have lab results or a certificate of analysis for that specific batch.”
Sacred Leaf, a Topeka-based franchise with a Lawrence store at 810 W. 23rd St., offers products that are presented online as “GMO-free, organic, vegan and naturally sourced from 100% natural hemp.” The company states that they control their product from seed to source, farming their own hemp, extracting chemical compounds, and bottling and shipping their products.
A manager at Sacred Leaf, who asked not to be named, said her employer was one of only a few companies in town selling Delta-8 products produced by their own manufacturers. She said that unlike other stores that sell products from outside sources, the additional level of control ensures adequate product regulation and safety.
She said she was concerned that disreputable distributors who don’t follow guidelines could eventually cause lawmakers to crack down on Delta-8 businesses.
“One or two of these people are going to ruin it for everyone else,” she said.
Hothan said that CBD and THC products deserve further consideration as substitutes for pharmaceutical products, and that as a pharmacist he has witnessed the success some patients see substituting one for the other.
Although some people may buy or sell Delta-8 for the euphoric effect, Hothan said his goal was to work with individuals to find a product and a dosage tailored to treat their specific need.
Employees at CBD of Lawrence are trained to speak with customers on benefits, dosing, and what symptoms a product is designed to alleviate, Hothan said. He also recommended Project CBD as a valuable source for information on studies, safety, and the science behind CBD and THC as alternative therapies.
He hopes that once people realize the safety and opportunity in these products, public opinion will begin to sway legislators. Until then, the goal is to stay within the rule of law to keep Delta-8 available to his customers.
“I would hate to see such a valuable product to be taken away just because of a lack of knowledge,” Hothan said. “I think we can turn people’s minds around eventually. I certainly don’t want to see us go backward.”