Columbus, Ohio (January 17, 2024) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today called on the state legislature to prioritize the regulation of intoxicating hemp products to prevent their sale to minors.
Concerns Regarding Marketing and Accessibility:
Governor DeWine highlighted concerns surrounding the unregulated sale of intoxicating hemp, a modified form of the legal plant containing Delta-8 THC, a psychoactive compound similar to marijuana. These products, often marketed as candy, cereal, and gummies, readily attract children due to their enticing packaging and flavors. With current laws lacking oversight, these products remain readily available to minors.
Data and Expert Opinions:
The Governor cited data from the Ohio Poison Control Center revealing at least 257 reported Delta-8 poisonings in the state over the past three years, emphasizing the alarming trend. In 2023 alone, 102 cases were reported, involving 40 children under six, with 90% requiring emergency care or hospitalization.
Dr. Gary Wenk, a prominent neuroscientist, emphasized the potential harm of Delta-8 to young brains, citing potential impacts on attention, emotional stability, and learning. He underscored the “crisis” posed by the product’s legal status despite its documented detrimental effects.
Proposed Regulatory Measures:
Governor DeWine advocated for regulations similar to those recently implemented for recreational marijuana. This would include age restrictions (21+), sales via licensed retailers, and limitations on advertising and packaging targeting children.
Demonstration of Ease of Access:
Further highlighting the urgency of action, Director Andy Wilson of the Ohio Department of Public Safety recounted an experiment where two 15-year-olds easily purchased Delta-8 gummies at a gas station within minutes of their school, showcasing the lack of age verification under current laws.
Call to Action:
While urging swift legislative action, Governor DeWine also appealed to retailers to take proactive measures by removing these products from their shelves to safeguard children’s health