Wood County First in State to Pass Age Restriction on Purchase Intoxicating Hemp Products

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WOOD COUNTY, WI (OnFocus) – On August 23, the Wood County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that requires individuals to show proof of age 21 to purchase intoxicating hemp products, such as delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in Wood County.  The ordinance also limits proximity in which these products can be sold near youth-serving organizations and other youth friendly locations. “We wanted the focus of this ordinance to be on youth substance use prevention,” stated Jacob Wagner, Wood County Health Department.

Marijuana and hemp are both cannabis plants, but industrial hemp contains 0.3% or less of the psychoactive compound, THC, and marijuana has higher levels of THC. Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized industrial hemp nationwide, a loophole was created that made any other intoxicating chemicals in the cannabis plant legal, except for no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC.  “Delta-8 THC is said to be less potent than delta-9 THC,” Wagner shared, “but products sold in this area are chemically formulated concentrates that cause very similar effects to delta-9 because of their potency.”

In spring 2022, Healthy People Wood County’s substance use prevention team, IMPACT, conducted a community scan of delta-8 THC. “Our volunteers found nerds ropes, gummy lifesavers, pop rocks, and a variety of other sweets and snacks that appeal to children all containing alarming levels of delta-8 THC,” shared Wagner.  “Not only were the types of products alarming, but how they were being sold was also a concern.  Some locations have delta-8 products right next to regular candy and gum displays, or right at a kid’s eye-level at checkout stands, and there were many inconsistencies among retailers when we asked how old you had to be to buy these products.”

School districts have expressed concerns with the number of students vaping THC at school.  Craig Broeren, Superintendent of Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools, stated, “Based on recent trends, it appears as though students are less likely to be using nicotine in vaping devices; we are seeing a shift almost entirely to THC products that could legally be sold to students in gas stations, vape shops, or grocery stores throughout the state.”

Wisconsin currently has no regulations in place for Delta-8 THC, and even marijuana advocacy groups, such as NORML, warn consumers about using unregulated Delta-8 THC products.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a health alert in 2021 on the increase in availability of cannabis products containing delta-8 THC and potential for adverse events due to insufficient labeling of products containing THC and Cannabidiol (CBD).  Likewise, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released warnings due to an uptick in adverse event reports, marketing that appeals to children, and concerns of contamination due to methods of manufacturing.

“Our hope is that we not only restrict youth from purchasing these products from area retailers, but that it sparks a conversation and spreads awareness about the risks these products pose to the public’s health,” Wagner added. “We have been hearing from several community partners that something needs to happen because kids won’t ask what they’re consuming, and adults don’t always know how to talk to youth about substance use.  Hopefully retailers now feel more confident to refuse a sale to someone under 21.”

For more information about IMPACT contact Jacob Wager, Wood County Health Department, at 715-421-8907 or [email protected]

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News Desk
Author: News Desk

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