Talk to Your Kids about the Dangers of Delta-8

August 23, 2022

Families across Pennsylvania are preparing to send their children back to school or college. They are helping them prepare for the new school year by shopping for supplies, planning schedules, and discussing expectations.

One thing parents or caretakers should add to the list: Talk to your children about the dangers of a widely available cannabinoid product called “Delta-8.” This hemp-based product is sold in stores across the Commonwealth and is often advertised as a legal alternative to marijuana.

That assertion is wrong.

Under Pennsylvania law, Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is explicitly illegal. Those who possess it, sell it, manufacture it, or possess it with the intent to sell or manufacture it, are subject to prosecution under Pennsylvania state law. (35 P.S. § 780-102 (2019), 35 P.S. § 780-104 (1)(iii)(16) (2020), and 35 P.S. § 780-104 (1)(vii)(1) (2020)

In addition to being illegal in Pennsylvania, students need to know that Delta-8 products may be dangerous to their health. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers that Delta-8 products could result in serious health risks, including hallucinations, vomiting, anxiety, and loss of consciousness. The FDA also issued warning letters to manufacturers selling Delta-8 THC products warning of the dangers.

Delta-8 is unregulated in Pennsylvania. It is not subject to the type of testing that is required to manufacture legal medical marijuana. This leads to concerns that there could be chemicals, pesticides and contaminants in the products left behind in the manufacturing process.

So why do stores think it is okay to sell Delta-8? 

In 2018, Congress passed a federal Farm Bill legalizing hemp production. Some manufacturers believed the change in federal law made products like Delta-8 legal in Pennsylvania. That’s incorrect. 

Pennsylvania statute allows some forms of industrial hemp, which are cultivated for fiber, seed, and floral extracts. However, state law requires that the concentration of THC be less than 0.3% in hemp. (See FAQs at state Department of Agriculture).

This summer, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin sent a letter to store owners warning that products like Delta-8, which may contain more than 0.3 % THC, are classified as Schedule 1 controlled substances. The county’s Drug Task Force conducted consent searches and confiscated several products, including vapes and edibles. Martin encouraged businesses to remove the products from their shelves rather than face possible criminal charges.

Earlier in the year, Berks County District Attorney John Adams conducted a search of stores by buying a random assortment of products. Adams had the products tested at the Pennsylvania State Police laboratory, which found that every product had THC levels exceeding the legal limit.

Bottom line: Cannabinoid products like Delta-8 are illegal in Pennsylvania and may cause serious health problems. Parents and trusted family members are uniquely positioned to influence positive, safe behavior in our youth.

Have a conversation with your children about the dangers of Delta-8.


Kelly Callihan, Esq., is PDAA’s Counsel for Policy and External Relations. A career prosecutor and former district attorney, Callihan has prosecuted child abuse cases, felony sexual assaults, and violent crimes in both juvenile and adult courts. She also spearheaded the creation of programs and task forces to enhance victim services in the criminal justice system.