CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A legal drug, closely related to marijuana is gaining popularity in the Lowcountry.

Doctors say there is some danger with the product Delta-8 THC especially around children, but one man says the product changed his life.

February 20, 2013, is a day that Joshua Hayes says he will never forget. “I got in a car accident, I was driving down the road,” says Joshua Hayes, a Delta-8 consumer.

Hayes ran his car into a tree on River Road on Johns Island, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and in a coma in the hospital for two months.

“My whole life has been nothing but pain. I have been in the hospital every day and I’ve broken both my knees, wrists, face and nose like 15 million times,” said Hayes.

Doctors told Hayes he would never be able to walk, talk or communicate with his family again. He struggled with painkillers for months, and then he says he tried a new product for the first time.

“It’s kind of a way to make you smarter, make your brain work better, and take the edge off,” says Hayes.

It’s called Delta-8 which is considered a cousin to marijuana, but it’s legal to sell on store shelves across the state. The product often comes in the form of candy which doctors say helps with marketing.

“The idea of this product in the form of a gummy makes young people who are interested in substance may be interested to seek this out,” says Dr. Kevin Gary, a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at MUSC.

Dr. Gray says the product can also be dangerous.

“Young children may also just mistake this for candy,” Dr. Gray says.

While consumers like Hayes benefits from the product, the Food and Drug Administration has cited serious health risks for the product. They have reported 39% of children under 18 years old, hospitalized with poison exposure.

“You really don’t know how much Delta-8 THC or even cannabinoids are in this,” says Dr. Gray.

Stores like I Heart CBD in Mount Pleasant say Delta-8 is one of their best-selling products, sourcing their hemp from company-owned farms to know exactly where the product is coming from.

“There is products out there that can say 1000 mg on the bottle and you find out those lab reports, and it says 500 mg or less. Half of the concentration is not in a lot of these products,” says Justin Walczuk, Owner of I Heart CBD in Mount Pleasant.

For consumers like Hayes, he says he is taking things one step at a time. Hayes says Delta-8 has changed his life and helped him, as he’s struggled with addiction and numbed his pain forever.

“My personality is, show me that I can’t and I will show you that I can. This Delta-8 product is not only the best thing I have found, but it’s the best way I know that you can heal yourself,” Hayes says.