GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A lawsuit seeking to get a Fulton County judge to declare Delta-8 and Delta-10 products legal under Georgia law won an important victory this week, when the judge issued an injunction against prosecutions related to those products in Gwinnett County.
The lawsuit is aimed at Gwinnett County District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gatson, with lawyers arguing she has unjustly raided retail stores and arrested employees and owners who sell the products.
The injunction will halt any further raids, arrests or prosecutions until the lawsuit is resolved.
The ruling this week by Judge Charles M. Eaton Jr. of Fulton County Superior Court determined both that businesses who sell Delta-8 and Delta-10 products "will suffer irreparable harm" and "will be unable to remain open" without an injunction against the DA's actions against them, and that the DA had "provided no actual evidence to indicate that the distribution and sale of these products had led to any direct harm to any individuals or parties in Gwinnett County."
Products containing Delta-8 and Delta-10 are legal and sold commonly in Georgia, since 2018, so long as they keep the amount of THC or Delta-9 below the 0.3% threshold.
The judge weighed the DA's argument that, because the law legalizing hemp in Georgia does not specifically allow Delta-8 and Delta-10, they should be considered illegal.
However, he wrote, "this argument may also be seen in the opposite" - if lawmakers had intended to limit Delta-8 and Delta-10, they explicitly would have.
He then found that the law legalizing hemp products in Georgia is two years old and that, to this point, "there has been little to no action taken against or involving these products until this year."
That means there is little to no precedent for the judge to refer to with this lawsuit, which, he wrote, "speaks volumes as to the merits of (the) position that these substances may be legal under current Georgia law."
The judge's order deferred to the current "status quo," noting it would "be preserved by an injunction" against the Gwinnett DA.
With this, the judge determined there was a "substantial likelihood" the case would succeed.
Attorney Page Pate, whose firm Pate, Johnson & Church filed the lawsuit, called the injunction a "major victory" in the case. (Disclosure: Pate frequently comments as a legal analyst for 11Alive.)
"Next step is to win our entire case against the state establishing that Delta 8 and Delta 10 products are legal to distribute, sell, and possess in Georgia," Pate wrote on the firm's website.
Thomas Church, the lead attorney on the case, has previously told 11Alive that Georgia's Hemp Bill (Georgia Hemp Farming Act) is "very explicit" in that "hemp and all its extracts, all its derivatives, and critically here, all of its cannabinoids are legal except using more than 0.3% of Delta-9 THC."