Cannabis chemical delta-8 legal under Georgia law, lawsuit claims

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2019, file photo, marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

ATLANTA (AP) - A new lawsuit in Georgia seeks a court order declaring that a chemical related to the main intoxicating ingredient in pot is legal under state law.

The chemical, called delta-8 THC, is mostly synthesized from CBD, a non-intoxicating chemical that's prevalent in hemp. Delta-8 has become extremely popular across the country, and the cannabis industry and state governments have grappled with its rise.

An Atlanta law firm said it filed a lawsuit Thursday after the district attorney in Gwinnett County threatened to prosecute businesses selling products with delta-8 and a related chemical, delta-10.

District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gatson said in January that the possession, sale or distribution of delta-8 is illegal under state law, according to the suit by the firm, Pate, Johnson & Church. An email Friday to the district attorney's office was not immediately returned.

The suit says the district attorney has interpreted "hemp" and "hemp products" incorrectly under state law. In addition to a declaration that delta-8 and delta-10 products are legal, it seeks a court order enjoining Austin-Gatson and the state from prosecuting business owners for selling them.