The new delta variants: experts, lawmakers raise concerns after drug bust

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HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT)- Sure, marijuana is illegal in Indiana and Kentucky, but that isn’t stopping manufacturers from trying to skirt around those regulations.

On Friday, the Henderson Police Department announced they seized $30,000 worth of THC products from ten businesses that apparently had no idea what they had.

Experts say the issue rises from a loophole in many state laws. Whereas a THC compound known as Delta-8 is largely considered legal, a similar but more potent compound known as Delta-9 is illegal. Indiana University assistant professor Daniel Orenstein explains many state laws and regulations haven’t quite caught up to the new trend, which keeps Delta-8 legal, or “quasi-legal” in states where marijuana is illegal, comparing the situation to the “wild west.”

So what’s the difference? Orenstein says the difference is subtle, going all the way to the number of carbon bonds on a specific molecule. Orenstein says there are far more similarities between the two compounds than there are differences.

Orenstein says products claiming to be Delta-8 have popped up around Indianapolis, at businesses ranging from farmer’s markets to vape shops to gas stations. Detective Daniel Burden from the Henderson Police Department says he believes manufacturers are intentionally trying to deceive businesses to sell more product.

Indiana State Senator Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) says he doesn’t expect marijuana to become legal in the state anytime soon, despite consistent efforts to legalize it. While he says he isn’t familiar with the issue in southwest Indiana, he says he hopes existing state laws will be flexible enough to crack down on products falsely claiming to be Delta-8.

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