District Attorney John T. Adams held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the results of a countywide operation conducted by the Berks County Drug Task Force into the possession and sales of illegal THC products.
An investigation was initiated by the Berks County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force after receiving numerous complaints and information regarding several establishments (Vape/Smoke Shops) selling illegal substances in Berks County which are causing the users to become sick and/or intoxicated.
Some of the complaints came from the parents of minors who consumed these products. Adams says the investigation revealed items marketed and sold as containing hemp or hemp derivatives, which do not meet the legal threshold standards established by the Department of Agriculture for the Commonwealth.
In order, to be classified as Hemp under the Industrial Hemp Research Act, a product cannot contain more than 0.3% of a concentration of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9THC).
Adams says any product containing a delta-9 THC concentration greater than 0.3% or contains any other THC isomers including but not limited to delta-8 THC or delta 10 THC is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance pursuant to Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act. The possession or distribution of such products is illegal.
As part of the Drug Task Force investigation, products such as vaping liquid, vegetable matter, and edibles were purchased and seized by undercover detectives from the establishments. The products were marketed as Delta-8 and Delta-10, which is a Schedule I controlled substance, under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.
Detectives seized a total of approximately 1,700 product/units with an estimated total value of approximately $85,000.
Adams concluded that an individual in possession of or selling the products identified as containing a Schedule I controlled substance may choose to cooperate with law enforcement in lieu of criminal charges. Cooperation includes the immediate surrender of the illegal products from the establishment and ceasing of any future sales of such products.
Should the sale of these products resume, Adams says individuals could be charged with Possession — a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 – or Distribution — a felony offense punishable as a first offense of up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Adams also noted that during this investigation, all store owners did cooperate with law enforcement, and that no charges were filed.