A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA


Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
June 13, 2022
Delta-8 regs, 'existential test,' bipartisan framework, ward fights, election meddling, ethics charges, and AI visions. It's Monday. Welcome! 
NEW FRONTIER
In a state where accessing medical marijuana can be time-consuming and costly, and where recreational cannabis remains illegal, some Pennsylvania consumers are turning to a widely available but unregulated psychoactive product with ingredients that are often impossible to discern.

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — known as delta-8 — is a cannabinoid derived from hemp. Its properties resemble those of delta-9, the primary intoxicant in cannabis, with purportedly milder psychoactive effects.

Despite its legal status, delta-8 is not subject to any regulations or mandatory testing in Pennsylvania, and its packaging isn't required to note potential side effects, despite related warnings from federal officials.

In response, state Sen. Judy Schwank (D., Berks) plans to introduce legislation that would regulate delta-8, Spotlight PA reports, saying the new rules would keep it available while ensuring it's safe to consume.

THE CONTEXT: Schwank said a number of constituents reached out to her to say they had used delta-8 because Pennsylvania's medical marijuana cards aren't accessible enough. She also heard from a parent whose middle schooler was able to buy a vaporizing device with delta-8 in it.

National poison control centers received 2,362 calls related to delta-8 between January 2021 and March 2022, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Forty percent of those calls involved "unintentional exposure." Of those exposures, 82% involved "pediatric patients."

Schwank, who previously proposed an outright ban on delta-8, is now pushing for rules requiring product labels that spell out what delta-8 is, what the effects are, and what a serving size should be.

She also wants to mandate testing "by the state or by a third-party laboratory" to ensure that the products don't contain delta-9 — which many do — or potentially harmful contaminants.

Mandatory testing is likely to raise retail prices, and there are other potential wrinkles with the plan, including challenges around testing delta-8 products for delta-9 and knowing which labs are reliable, experts note.
NOTABLE / QUOTABLE

"Once politicians start censoring what teachers say and how they do their jobs, there is no telling how far that censorship will extend or what they will want to censor next. It is a very slippery slope."

Chris Lilienthal of the Pennsylvania State Education Association on the introduction of a Florida-style "Don't Say Gay" bill in Pennsylvania's state Senate; the GOP-led measure is opposed by Gov. Tom Wolf
 
📅 UPCOMING EVENTS
» THE AD BLOCK: Join us Tuesday, June 14 at 6 p.m. ET, for a free Q&A on the uneven rules and flaws of the state's medical marijuana program. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
 
📷 POST IT
A well-worn survey marker found in Pittsburgh. "Disturbing" it carries a $10 penalty, according to the faded text. Photo by me. Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
RECORDS FRAY: A regional development commission representing six Pennsylvania counties created a nonprofit to circumvent a state law that makes it hard for local governments to build their own broadband networks. Now, the push faces an existential test amid accusations of misled state regulators and thousands of dollars spent fighting the release of basic information about the initiative, Spotlight PA reports.

RARE AGREEMENT: A bipartisan group of 20 U.S. senators has reached a framework deal on reducing gun violence that includes enhanced background checks, money for state red-flag laws, and a provision to close "boyfriend" loopholes. The emerging deal is backed by outgoing Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Here's where the nominees to replace him stand on the issue, via the Post-Gazette.

PARTY SPATS: The quadrennial fight that is the Philadelphia Democratic Party's slate of ward elections took place last week with open arguing and at least one physical altercation, per Billy Penn. Ward leaders can decide ward endorsements, so the role carries weight. And while progressives made inroads, they say the establishment is holding them back. Lawsuits are also eyed amid claims of "sham" procedures.

LEAD ROLE: The Inquirer created a definitive timeline of Doug Mastriano's efforts to overturn Donald Trump's 2020 loss in Pennsylvania — both in the run-up to the U.S. Capitol attack and after it. Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor, is said to be cooperating with the U.S. House panel investigating the attack. The panel is hosting another televised hearing at 10 this morning.

LEGAL LIMITS: Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is accused of violating Pennsylvania's Rules of Professional Conduct by spreading unsubstantiated claims of widespread 2020 voter fraud here, the AP reports. Related professional ethics charges were brought against Giuliani by the disciplinary arm of the D.C. Bar last week. Giuliani's law license has already been suspended in New York and D.C.
IN OTHER NEWS
PATRIOT FRONT: Thirty-one members of the white nationalist Patriot Front group were arrested near an Idaho Pride event on Saturday for planning to riot there. The group's Pennsylvania activity is well-documented and includes vandalism, banners, and sparring sessions.

HONOR REMOVED: Pennsylvania has pulled a less-than-one-year-old roadside historical marker honoring gay rights pioneer Richard Schlegel over a 1993 interview in which Schlegel suggests he sexually touched an 11- or 12-year-old boy when he was 16, the AP reports.

BRAGGING RIGHTS: Congratulations to Frank Fisher, winner of Saturday's Parallel Parking Championship in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood. Here's a video of the action (second in the image series). 

STRANGER THINGS: I put "PA Post Newsletter" into an AI-generated image machine and received some interesting results. Here's a quick tutorial on the tech. Please send me your strangest renderings. 

LEGACY GRIND: The modern obsession with workplace efficiency got you down? Blame Philadelphia Quaker Frederick Taylor, whose influence is still felt at companies like Amazon more than a century later, per Billy Penn.

 

THE SCRAMBLER
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
 
E F A A E T C I D F N D E

This week's theme: Coffee
 
Friday's answer: Lethargic

Congrats to our weekly winner: Vicki U.

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Susan N.-Z., David S., Susan D., Don H., Doris T., Jude M., Deb N., Ann E., George S., Kimberly S., Elizabeth W., Dianne K., Kimberly B., Starr B., Ted M., Elaine C., Fred H., David W., Mary Jo J., Kim C., Bill S., Daniel M., and Irene R.
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