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'A big human guinea pig experiment' — Delta-8 in Wisconsin

John Diedrich
Jimmy Gutierrez
John Diedrich, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative reporter

Wisconsin is an island when it comes to marijuana prohibition, with Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois all deciding to legalize recreational marijuana and tax it appropriately. And while the state hasn't made any traction on those conversations legislatively, marijuana's chemical cousin, Delta-8, has taken over, and it's completely unregulated.

Besides being unregulated, Delta-8 is also widespread in Wisconsin from gas stations, to convenience stores and even in tourist gift shops. The unregulated industry also has a fair share of scary experiences for consumers who've had to call for emergency assistance. And with the state's stalemate on marijuana legislation, it seems Delta-8 is here for the long haul.

John Diedrich is an investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has been reporting on this issue as part of the Highly Legal series in collaboration with the nonprofit newsroom, The Examination, and AL.com.

Findings so far on the unregulated industry include a lack of an age limit to purchase the product, as well as a lack of limit on potency, which is one huge difference in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. For example, in Colorado, the maximum amount of THC in an edible is 100 mg, or 10mg per piece.

"There are products in the Delta-8 space and other hemp derived products that are 2,500 mg," Diedrich says. "Even if it's less [potent] toe-to-toe, you're going up beyond 25 times the amount ... I should point out people who've felt like this has been super useful to them."

While Diedrich didn't advocate for using Delta-8, he did share tips on how to more safely consume the product based on his reporting, which includes: do your research and know what you're getting, go to a trusted and specialized store and start with small doses.


Jimmy is a WUWM producer for Lake Effect.
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