Mar 22, 2022 - News

Judge slams brakes on Gwinnett DA's Delta-8 crackdown

Illustration of a CBD oil dropper crossed with a gavel.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A brewing legal battle between the Gwinnett County district attorney and businesses selling Delta-8, an increasingly popular cannabis extract used for anxiety, joint pain or good-ole fashioned relaxation, has entered a 30-day cease fire.

Driving the news: On Friday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order barring Gwinnett DA Patsy Austin-Gatson from cracking down on smoke shops and other stores that sell gummies and tinctures containing the product.

In the weeds (no pun intended): Delta-8 — and another cannabinoid called Delta-10 — are derived from hemp and can have a mild psychoactive effect.

  • They're different, however, from Delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana (and which is illegal in Georgia).

Catch up quick: In January, Austin-Gatson said Delta-8 and Delta-10 were not covered by state and federal laws allowing the sale and possession of hemp products with no more than 0.3% THC. People who sold the items could face arrest and felony charges, she said.

  • In late February, a multi-agency task force outfitted in riot gear raided a distributor in Gwinnett, seizing $2 million worth of products, according to CBS46.

This month, two companies that own vape shops in Gwinnett filed a lawsuit against the DA and the state asking a judge to stop Austin-Gatson from going after the businesses. They also want the judge to clarify that Delta-8 is legal in Georgia.

  • The plaintiffs stopped selling the products and their incomes dropped 30% and 60%, respectively, according to the filing.

Fulton County Judge Craig Schwall granted the 30-day temporary restraining order — and said "there may be some prosecutorial priorities misplaced,” according to the AJC.

  • In a statement to Law360, Austin-Gatson said "The law has to be adhered to and the code specifically states that THC, no matter if it is derived from Hemp or Marijuana, is not legal in edible[s], unless there is FDA approval. No such approval exists."

What they’re saying: “Our position is that the legislature’s already weighed in and already passed a law that legalized all these products,” the plaintiff’s attorney Tom Church tells Axios. “What we have is a DA’s office and occasionally local law enforcement agencies have misinterpreted the law and gone after Delta-8 retailers.”

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