Ohio retailer says delta-8 THC crackdown would 'tear' at business
Gov. Mike DeWine wants state lawmakers to quickly crack down on sales of delta-8 THC and other “intoxicating“ hemp derivative products, and DeWine said Wednesday he would be fine with Ohio banning them outright, worrying retailers who sell federally-legal CBD and THC.
DeWine and some state agencies argue what's currently on the shelves is being marketed toward kids with packaging that might mimic popular candies or cereals.
At a Wednesday media conference, Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Andy Wilson said he enlisted two 15-year-olds over the weekend to make that case—sending them into a BP gas station, where they bought delta-8 THC infused gummies without question. Under current law, that's technically legal.
Chris Voudris owns Vapor Haus, a chain of vape shops in the Dayton area. Voudris said nearly one-third of his sales come from hemp-derived products, like delta-8 gummies.
“The products he (DeWine) was talking about, that's not a bulk of the industry. That's a very small piece of it, that in any industry you're going to have bad actors and horrible marketing,” Voudris said in an interview. “But that's just not the products that are sold, the vast majority.”
The federal Farm Bill created a gray area in 2018, removing cannabis products with less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC from the definition of marijuana. Delta-8 fits the bill, which is why even before passage of Issue 2 in November 2023, retailers in Columbus and elsewhere could sell products with psychoactive ingredients that induce a high.
Very few regulations of the substance exist in Ohio, which is why it's legal to buy at any age.
Voudris said his business largely sells products that come in child-proof packaging, and the stores already restrict everything to Ohioans 21 and older, even absent a state mandate. Some items include QR codes so customers can see lab-testing information.
“We've always been really into carrying top tier products,” he said.
DeWine said that’s not the case elsewhere. “We don't rely on the goodwill of every clerk on any other products,” he said.
A law introducing an age restriction is welcome, Voudris said. But he worries that stricter regulations—like limiting sale to eventually licensed recreational marijuana retailers—would hurt his revenue, cause jobs cuts and quash access for customers.