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Kansas Faces Lawsuit Over 4/20 Police Raids on Delta-8

After attorney general labels Delta-8 a controlled substance, retailer targeted by police sues saying delta-8 products are federally protected.

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Cannabis supporters gather in Denver, CO for a 4/20 rally in 2011. This year, while similar celebrations were held around the nation, Kansas police choose the day to raid retailers selling delta-8. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA

While the rest of the nation was celebrating the liberation of cannabis on 4/20, the police in Kansas chose that day to launch surprise raids on retailers selling delta-8 products. Now, the state is being sued by the owner of Terpene Distribution, Murray Dines, who had over $120,000 in cash seized and his inventory confiscated.

Dines alleges in his suit that Kansas law enforcement law had no legal authority to conduct the raids and seize property, as delta-8 is legal under federal law. According to  The raid took place after Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued an opinion in December stating that all hemp products with more than 0.3% of any type of THC fall under a Schedule I drug in Kansas.— regardless of the federal allowance for a THC level of 0.3% in delta-8. Dines claims his products were within those legal limits.

As reported by WIBW-TV in Topeka, court records show that on 4/20 the Topeka Police Department narcotics unit and Shawnee County Drug Task Force executed two search warrants at Terpene Distribution in Shawnee County, citing the attorney general’s opinion as authority. Officials say the search came after an undercover purchase was made of a delta-8 product at Terpene Distribution and sent for testing— which found THC in the product. However, the test importantly failed to report the percentage of THC found in the products.

Kansas governor, attorney general named in suit
Dines says his delta-8 products — which are manufactured in Colorado and legally transported as a hemp product into Kansas — contained less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. Dines’ 21-page federal lawsuit names AG Schmidt and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, saying their actions violated the federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the Farm Bill of 2018, which legalize the production of hemp and all its derivatives with less than 0.3% THC.

The chemical structure of Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol. PHOTO WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Kansas’ change to federal definition of hemp
The suit also points to Farm Bill of 2018 prohibiting the alteration of the federal definition of hemp.  Currently, Kansas law defines industrial hemp as limited to the plant itself. Dines contends this alone violates the Farm Bill of 2018, which considers as legal trade any part of the plant and all its derivatives. The lawsuit not only seeks monetary damages, but to clarify the definition of hemp under Kansas state law and the legality of its derivatives.

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“This limited definition of hemp was subsequently used as an excuse for one or more defendants in this case to apply the law in a manner that criminalizes items that would be otherwise considered legal hemp products if Kansas utilized the correct definition of hemp,” the lawsuit says, reports The Kansas City Star.

Wax on, hands off
While the Farm Bill of 2018 does allow states and municipalities to levy their own restrictions, the suit alleges the attorney general’s opinion also ignores the state’s own Kansas Hemp Act, which states: “It is the intent of the legislature of the state of Kansas that the implementation of the commercial industrial hemp act by the Kansas department of agriculture shall be conducted in the least restrictive manner allowed under federal law” and bars officials from prohibiting the production, use or sale of any hemp product not prohibited by state or federal law.

Thus, given the federal definition of hemp and Kansas’ breach of that definition in its Hemp Act, Dines argues that the sale of delta-8 in Kansas is, indeed, legal.

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