Make your home page

Delta-8 THC products being treated differently across Indiana

A Delta-8 THC product sits on a shelf. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Business owners are furious about a decision from Attorney General Todd Rokita that they said is costing them sales.

Rokita issued an opinion in January saying Delta-8 THC products are illegal drugs.

Michael Renschler owns Cloud City Vapor in Evansville. He started selling Delta-8 THC products when they were made legal through the U.S. Agriculture Improvement Act in 2018.

“Everybody was flooding here to buy them,” Renschler said.

In January, Indiana’s Republican attorney general issued an opinion saying Delta-8 is a Schedule 1 drug, the same category as marijuana, heroin and cocaine.

Eight months later, Renschler got a visit from law enforcement in Vanderburgh County. “Officer walked in, said that all the products we have, which was two-three display cases worth of stuff, had to be taken out completely. It could no longer be sold.”

If he didn’t empty out these cases of Delta-8 products, Renschler was told, he would be charged with a crime. “Not something I’d want to flirt with, obviously,” he said.

Renschler said being unable to sell Delta-8 hurt his business a lot, “60% to 75%, it’s a very big percentage.”

At another business 170 miles north in Indianapolis, I-Team 8 found Delta-8 products for sale. The business is not being identified.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department told I-Team 8 it is not been going to businesses and telling them they can’t sell the product. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office told I-Team 8 it has not had any cases involving people selling Delta-8.

Alex Straiker is a senior research scientist at Indiana University. I-Team 8 asked him about the situation. “It doesn’t surprise me that this is what happened. It all just happened very quickly.”

He explained the differences between Delta-8 and traditional marijuana. “Chemically it’s very, very, similar, and it’s actually very hard to distinguish. The effects are similar; not identical, but pretty similar.”

Delta-8 is derived from a hemp plant. Hemp is legal in Indiana and the United States.

But, Rokita says Delta-8 falls into a gray area because it is synthetically produced. The opinion said, “Like making meth from cold medicine, just because the starting materials are legal does not make the resulting product legal (or safe).”

In June, the Midwest Hemp Council sued Indiana’s attorney general to challenge his opinion on Delta-8 products. The lawsuit is pending.

In June 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers about the potential dangers of eating foods with Delta-8 THC, especially for kids, who are more vulnerable to the effects.