CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Hemp products such as Delta-8 are legal for sale and consumption in West Virginia and can be purchased at places like as smoke shops and even gas stations across the state. But have West Virginians been buying what they thought they were buying?

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has issued a consumer protection warning, saying that illegal hemp products are being sold in West Virginia retail stores.

Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said that some retail stores in the state are selling recreational marijuana edibles with labels that make consumers believe that they are Delta-8 products instead. “The actors we have seen in West Virginia are hiding marijuana labeling with stickers or claiming their products are Delta-8,” said Leonhardt.

What is Delta-8?

Delta-8 is a THC hemp product that is both legal and accessible in West Virginia. All Delta-8 products in West Virginia must be from a legal hemp grower. And those purchasing and using it must be 21 years old.

Those who take Delta-8 will see a lot of the same symptoms as someone using marijuana, such as relaxation and pain relief, but they will be much milder. Delta-8 will not give you a pronounced high in the same way as marijuana but it does cause a euphoric feeling, according to Healthline.

According to the WVDA, they regulate all hemp products and hemp-derived cannabinoids that enter the West Virginia retail supply chain. Any hemp product in West Virginia must contain less than .3 percent THC, according to the West Virginia Hemp Products Guide.

What is THC?

THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. It’s what makes people feel “high,” according to WebMD. However because THC is found in hemp, it is legal in West Virginia to a certain level.

In addition to the disguised marijuana products, another main concern of the WVDA is non-naturally occurring cannabinoids, such as THC-O, ATHC, THC-X, and Delta 8-O. Only naturally occurring hemp products are regulated by the Department of Agriculture in West Virginia, meaning that artificial cannabinoids are not regulated in the state, which could make them dangerous.

The WVDA issued a non-naturally occurring cannabinoid product notice in October 2021. The WVDA has great concern that the contents pose great risk to the consumer and urge the public to not purchase them,” said Amie Minor, the WVDA Director of Regulatory and Environmental Affairs.

Leonhardt said that other states have issued similar warnings for products that look like food or candy but actually contain marijuana. The WVDA is worried that children could unknowingly take the products, thinking they are snacks. “The products are unsafe and present a risk to public health and safety. We hope to tackle this issue with the assistance of law enforcement,” he said.

The Department is urging consumers not to buy these products as the WVDA works with law enforcement to remove them from shelves.