Hemp group sues Kentucky agriculture, police leaders over delta-8 THC ban, raids

The Kentucky Hemp Association claims that state police are illegally raiding legal hemp retail stores as they look for delta-8 THC products and is asking a state judge to put a stop to the practice.

The group on Tuesday asked a Boone Circuit Court judge to stop police from using an April 19 letter from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to target hemp products containing delta-8 THC.

The association is also suing Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and State Police Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr., according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture in April told Kentucky hemp license holders that the agency had received public inquiries about the legal status of delta-8 THC products under federal and state law.

Kentucky agriculture officials advised hemp licensees in the letter that delta-8 THC products remain controlled substances under federal and state law and that manufacturing, marketing or distributing the products is illegal and could lead to expulsion from the state hemp program and criminal prosecution.

A Kentucky agriculture spokesman said hemp advocates assured policymakers that hemp was not intoxicating and that state and federal lawmakers legalized hemp by creating a definition that separated it from marijuana.

“Now, some want to argue that lawmakers accidentally legalized an intoxicating synthetic substance called delta-8 THC,” said spokesman Sean Southard, noting that even states such as Colorado that have legalized recreational marijuana have banned delta-8 THC products.

To date, several states have banned delta-8 THC products.

And Michigan this week became the first state with a legal adult-use recreational marijuana market to sign into law legislation to regulate delta-8 THC products under its state marijuana regulatory program, rather than banning the product.

The Kentucky Hemp Association argues that delta-8 THC products are legal products under the state and federal laws regulating hemp production and that the court’s inaction could severely impact Kentucky’s hemp industry.

Kentucky Hemp Girl, a retail store in Burlington, and Rocky Ridge Hemp, a hemp farm in Cynthiana, joined the association in the lawsuit.

No court hearing has been scheduled yet for the case.