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via Neil Johnson at Gaezette Xtra

Hemp 1848 employee Anna Bailey sat at the counter at the Hemp and CBD products shop at Uptown Janesville on Saturday afternoon, stuffing crushed hemp flowers into cone-shaped, prerolled paper joints.

The pungent-smelling hemp flowers had been sprayed with liquid, concentrated Delta-8-THC, a chemical compound that can give those who use it a psychoactive high similar to Delta-9-THC—the high-inducing chemical in marijuana.

The major difference between the sprayed hemp Bailey was packaging up and regular pot is that pot’s active ingredient, Delta-9-THC, is a federal controlled substance that remains illegal to sell, possess and consume in Wisconsin.

But Delta-8-THC—known more informally as “D-8”—is derived from pot’s legal cousin, hemp. That makes D-8-THC legal under a loophole under the 2018 Farm Bill rules that govern the production, sale and use of legal hemp products.

And while experts say D-8 products are a tetrahydrocannabinoid that can deliver a high that’s milder, but similar to regular pot, D-8 is currently lawful to sell, possess and use, officials say.

Some local shops that sell the legal, non-intoxicating, hemp- derived chemical cannibidiol, or CBD, in recent months have added to their shelves a variety of hemp products treated with D-8 concentrates.

The Janesville Police Department in an alert on Friday said some local sellers are advertising D-8 flowers, gummies and concentrates as “legal THC.”

Police are cautioning that some of the new D-8 products have only been on the market a year or two. Some remain largely untested and police say some of the products can have potent intoxicating effects.

Cops also point out that driving intoxicated on any strain of THC, marijuana or not, is unlawful and that some local residents have had “adverse” effects after using D-8 products, including anxiety and nausea.

While marijuana remains illegal under state law, local sellers say the legal cousin to weed, D-8, is seeing dramatic growth in sales in Janesville. Hemp 1848, which operates two stores in Janesville, has been selling D-8 THC products since around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One Hemp 1848 official said the company’s shop at the former Janesville Mall has seen a “200%” jump in sales in D-8 in the last few months.

“They’ve been selling really, really well,” Bailey said, pointing to the D-8 joints as she placed them in a glass jar on the sale counter marked “Prerolls: $15 apiece.”

Police said cannabis with Delta-8-THC is reported to be milder in its effects than Delta-9-THC. But but it is still reported to cause intoxication in users, unlike hemp-based cannabidiol, or CBD, which does not cause intoxication.

And unlike the so-called synthetic cannabinoids, which contain unknown, unregulated chemical compounds that can mimic the intoxicating effects of pot, Delta-8-THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid.

Police said some residents report the products, including gummy candies, vaping oils, chewables and leaves, have “extremely high concentrations of Delta-8-THC that can lead to adverse health effects and impairment.”

Janesville police said it may be legal to sell Delta-8-THC, but consumption can cause impairment, and police suggest that driving under the influence of Delta-8-THC could lead to arrests for intoxicated driving.

Police said blood and urine tests can show the presence of Delta-8-THC.

Josh Fay, a wholesale representative for Hemp 1848 who works at the company’s mall shop and at its other location on East Milwaukee Street in downtown Janesville, and his co-worker Darcy Larum said the products, particularly D-8 THC gummy candies that the store makes and sells, can be potent for those who might be unaccustomed to their psychoactive effects.

Recently, Fay said, police came to Hemp 1848’s shop at the mall because someone had reported they had seen a sign outside the shop that read: “Legal THC.” Fay said police said the person had assumed the shop was selling pot.

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