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Is the FDA cracking down on Delta 8 THC?

Is the FDA cracking down on Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC gummies under scrutiny from FDA

The FDA recently issued warning letters to several companies for selling Delta 8 THC gummies and other Delta 8 THC products. Is a crackdown coming?

On May 4 of this year, the FDA issued five warning letters to Delta 8 THC retailers. It is not uncommon for the FDA to send warning letters to companies that could be making false medical claims about their products.

But this is the first time the FDA gas written warning letters specifically to Delta 8 THC companies.

The FDA has also released a consumer advisory warning on their official website regarding Delta 8 THC gummies and other Delta 8 THC products. In other words, D8 has been on the FDA’s radar for some time.

It is possible that more scrutiny could be coming down on the Delta 8 THC industry, which is mostly unregulated at the moment.

The FDA is approaching Delta 8 similarly to how they deal with CBD and other hemp products. The Farm Bill passed in 2018 legalized “industrial hemp” on the federal level. Under the ruling any cannabis plant that has lower than .3% THC on a dry weight basis is legal to possess, grow and sell across state lines.

The Farm Bill is responsible for the rapid expansion of the CBD industry, and D8 is a product made from CBD in most cases.

This association implies that Delta 8 THC should be legal as it comes from the hemp plant and CBD, both of which are legal. Despite the size of the CBD industry, it still lacks proper oversight from the FDA. What the FDA will do is devote a limited amount of agency resources to enforce against companies making medical claims about their products.

Legally, a CBD company can’t put any sort of medical benefits on the label or marketing for their products. This is because the FDA doesn’t recognize CBD as a medical supplement. They don’t recognize D8 either.

Delta 8 THC FDA Warning Letters

The five letter issued by the FDA went specifically to companies that were making “misleading claims” about medicinal benefits in D8 products. In their letters to the companies the FDA included the claims that were made. Here are a few examples:

  • “Delta-8 consumers report many of the same effects as THC, such as . . . relief from some symptoms such as pain . . .. Delta-8 can also help with insomnia.”
  • “Delta-8 THC Syrup from Kingdom Harvest is ideal for anybody experiencing a sleeping disorder or other ailments looking to be relieved.”
  • “If you have cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and migraines, Delta-8 THC can help alleviate the pain because it has immunosuppressant properties.”

According to the FDA, the presence of drug claims on the products technically classifies them as unapproved new drugs. Under the FDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act), new drugs may not be introduced into interstate commerce without being approved by the FDA. Because the products were not approved, they are technically illegal under the FDCA.

So does this mean that D8 gummies are going away any time soon? Unlikely.

Misleading branding

Misleading branding is nothing new to the cannabis industry. The illicit market is flooded with knockoff D8 products that are imitating popular brands like Doritos, or making Delta 8 THC gummies that look like Haribo gummy bears. Because the market isn’t regulated, there is very little oversight to keep these products off the market.

While some big companies like Skittles have fought back against their likeness being used in Delta 8 THC products, most don’t even know that their likeness is being used. When a customer sees a name-brand logo on a pack of Delta 8 THC gummies, unsurprisingly they are more likely to think it is a legitimate product.

Additionally, no D8 products are approved by the FDA as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Due to this Delta 8 is not approved for use in human or animal products because the required safety data is lacking.

Because the ingredient in the products is not approved, any D8 product is technically “adulterated”, and cannot be sold over state lines. However anybody who has looked up Delta 8 THC gummies online was still probably able to have them shipped from a different state.

While it appears the FDA is beginning to look at D8 more closely, there is still no determining evaluation by the FDA deciding its true legality. Delta 8 THC may be a legal byproduct of industrial hemp, but adding it into food items and supplements is where the lines get blurry.

For this reason, one should always be extremely weary of any D8 product that makes a medical claim or markets the product to have specific benefits. There is no way to verify their claims, and they could be completely false.

The FDA is still devoting very limited resourced to enforcing rules against Delta 8 THC retailers. They have only sent out five letters, when there are thousands of Delta 8 THC gummies and other products being sold online across the country daily.

The longer it takes the FDA to reign in CBD and D8, the more out of control the market could become, making it too large to reign back in and increasing risk for consumers.

New Mexico cannabis sales hit nearly $40 million in first month

New Mexico cannabis sales hit nearly $40 million in first month

New Mexico cannabis sales revenue numbers

In its first month of recreational cannabis sales, New Mexico brought in nearly $40 million in revenue.

After launching its legal cannabis industry on April 1, the state made over $4 million in its opening weekend. Through the rest of the month, adult use sales across 40 cities in New Mexico sold $22 million worth of cannabis products.

The remaining $17 million was medical cannabis sales.

Medical cannabis sales are exempt from taxes unlike recreational sales, so there was no tax revenue generated from the $17 million in sales for the month. The majority of the state’s recreational sales were in Albuquerque, home to roughly 564,000 residents.

The city alone sold nearly $15 million in cannabis in April. The next highest revenue generated was in Las Cruces at only $2 million in adult use sales.

Las Cruces is also home to the state’s first licensed cannabis lounge where consumers can enjoy cannabis in a public setting.

New Mexico communities that border Texas also saw a fair amount of sales in the first month of adult use cannabis in the state. Hobbs and Sunland Park sold $1.7 and $1.4 million respectively, including medical and recreational cannabis sales.

An analysis from Sun-News found that Sunland Park had the third highest sales per capita, likely due to “cannabis tourism” from Texas and Mexico.

New Mexico cannabis sales are taxed at 12% for adult-use, plus additional taxes from local jurisdictions. Final tax revenue numbers won’t be announced until May 25, but with current data it is expected that the state will make about $2.6 million in tax revenue for the month.

Additionally, the 12% excise tax rate on adult-use cannabis sales is set to increase to 18% in 2025. This is still a lower tax rate than neighboring states Arizona and Colorado.

It is likely that the 4/20 holiday helped to boost recreational sales in the New Mexico’s first month. However the state’s director of the Cannabis Control Division, Kristen Thomson, is still satisfied with how the state performed and anticipates continued growth in the future.

“New Mexicans showed up on April 1 ready to support local businesses selling high-quality New Mexico products, and they’re still coming,” Thomson wrote.

“Thanks to hard work by the dedicated people working in the industry, supply easily met consumer and patient demand. New Mexicans have a lot to be proud of in the launch of this new industry, which is already adding value to the state’s diverse economy.”

The CCD has projected that the New Mexico cannabis industry will create up to 11,000 jobs statewide, with $300 million in sales and $50 million in tax revenue in its first year.

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting could be banned

The underground Connecticut cannabis gifting community could be in for some trouble is legislators in the state get their way.

In a 98-48 vote, the Connecticut House of Representatives pushed forward legislation that would fine anybody who host a cannabis gifting event up to thousands of dollars. During the session, others argued that legalizing cannabis in Connecticut at all was a mistake that should be reverted.

Suffice to say there is disagreement in the legislature about the future of the industry in Connecticut, and it is going to have an impact on the industry there.

As it currently stands, cannabis is legal to possess for adults in Connecticut. However recreational cultivation for personal use won’t be an option until July 2023, and there is no regulated industry to speak of in the state.

In other words, cannabis is legal. It just can’t be grown recreationally or bought anywhere unless you’re a licensed medical cannabis patient. This has predictably created an underground market for those looking to obtain cannabis for personal consumption without a medical card.

What is cannabis gifting?

Cannabis gifting is by no means a new practice. It also isn’t exclusive to just Connecticut.

For example Washington D.C. legalized cannabis in 2015, but still doesn’t have a regulated industry due to barriers put in place by politicians during the legislative process. Now there is a thriving cannabis gifting industry in DC, with small shops tucked away across the city. There you can pay $45 for a sticker and receive an eighth of cannabis as a “gift”.

The donation/gifting method acts as a loophole under most cannabis laws that prohibit the illicit sale of cannabis outside of a licenses retailer. By gifting cannabis instead, it technically isn’t being sold and can’t be prosecuted.

It isn’t difficult to see why politicians would not be in favor of such a practice.

But with the current laws and delays in Connecticut, it was inevitable.

Some legislators are shaping the new bill not as a total restriction on cannabis gifting, but just organized events according to Democrat Rep. Michael D’Agostino.

“For right now, these bazaars are a way around the regulated marketplace,” D’Agostino said. As co-chairman of the legislative General Law Committee, he stressed that the bill would not prohibit true gifting events in which friends or acquaintances exchange or give each other cannabis without commercial transactions.

The legislation was originally proposed in response to events like the High Bazaar. There more than 1,000 visitors paid $20 or so to enter a warehouse in an industrial zone, where dozens of vendor tables would display cannabis in various forms, exchanging cash or other items of value for cannabis products.

Under the bill, those who sponsor these large gifting parties could be fined $1,000 by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and as much as $1,000 by local officials. The legislation isn’t entirely bad however.

The legislation also includes provisions to end the annual fees required of patients in the medical-marijuana program, saving patients about $5 million a year starting July 1, 2023. It would also permit physicians to write medical cannabis prescriptions, which would save patients more money and time.

The law also includes provisions strictly limited billboard advertising for cannabis companies, and completely bans it for out of state brands. Lastly, current cannabis cultivators would be allowed to undertake two more joint ventures, and towns and cities that are willing to host cannabis businesses, can now decide which businesses and how many could locate to their area.

Overall the legislation would appear to have more good than bad, with the main negative being the impacts on large cannabis gifting events. Small gathering of friends gifting each other cannabis products will still be allowed without repercussion. Medical cannabis patients will have quicker and more affordable access to their medicine, and in-state retailers will no longer have to worry about out of state competition.

New Jersey recreational cannabis sales finally begin

New Jersey recreational cannabis sales finally begin

New jersey recreational cannabis sales have started

Thursday April 21, 2022 marks the first day that recreational cannabis can be sold to consumers in New Jersey. Doors opened at the first dispensaries at 6 AM, with lines wrapping around the block.

“It’s a huge event. It’s a moment in time in American history where prohibition 2.0 is lifted,” said Ben Kovler, the chairman and CEO of Green Thumb Industries, which has two facilities opening Thursday, one in Bloomfield and another in Paterson.

However the industry isn’t fully taking off just yet. Just over a dozen “alternative care providers” in the state that were already providing medical cannabis to patients were given permission to sell adult-use cannabis on opening day.

It is still unclear when the hundreds of other cannabis business applicants will get their licenses and be allowed to open their doors, but it will likely start with social equity applicants first.

State regulators say dispensaries in New Jersey are allowed to sell up to the equivalent of 1 ounce of cannabis, which means an ounce of dried flower, or 5 grams of concentrate or 1,000 milligrams of edibles, like gummies. However perishable edibles like cookies and brownies will not be available.

Recreational cannabis sales will still apply the state 6.625% sales tax, with 70% of the proceeds going to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests.

New Jersey is the first among several neighboring states to launch recreational cannabis sales. New York legalized cannabis in 2020 but has yet to implement a recreational market. Pennsylvania has a successful medical cannabis industry, with advocates and even legislators pushing for full legalization this year. Connecticut also legalized cannabis but has yet to implement any marketplace for consumers.

3 reasons 4/20 is still an important holiday

3 reasons 4/20 is still an important holiday

best things to do on 4/20

From the outside, 4/20 might just seem like a special day for stoners to get especially stoned. In a way they aren’t wrong.

4/20 has become a national holiday for cannabis lovers across the world. It is a day when we can all come together as a community to share our passion for the plant.

And yes, it is a day where you can score some great deals at the dispensary to get a little extra baked!

However 4/20 still holds a lot more importance than you may think. While the day may have supposedly started from some friends sneaking out to get high together, it has evolved into the main holiday promoting the cannabis legalization movement.

You see, cannabis is only fully legal in 18 states in the US. While there are only two states — Nebraska and Kansas — that haven’t legalized anything at all (including CBD), cannabis is still fully illegal according to the federal government.

That brings us to five reasons why 4/20 is still an important and essential holiday. Not just to those who love cannabis, but for anybody who supports breaking down unjust laws that punish minorities and create more problems for the country as a whole.

Cannabis is not federally legal

It might be easy to look at the expressive nature of the cannabis industry and community and think, “how could this be illegal?”

After all people like Snoop Dogg can openly smoke a blunt on live TV at the Super Bowl and face no repercussions. But for many others, the reality is much, much different. In fact, 40% of drug-related arrests in 2018 were for cannabis.

Consider the resources that are still going into arresting people for a plant that is medically or recreationally legal in over half the country. Does that make sense?

Additionally in New York City, 94% of cannabis arrests were black people in 2020.

4/20 has been the main day where proponents for legalization can really get their message heard and inform people on why legalization really matters.

Sharing the benefits of the plant

According to the federal government, cannabis is currently ranked as dangerous as heroin, an a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This means it has no medical applications and is highly addictive.

Well, 35 states that have legal medical cannabis programs would disagree. There have been studies showing recreational cannabis access decreases the demand for prescription opioids. Other studies have shown it to be extremely effective in treating various diseases, including cancer.

Lest we forget the wide range of ailments that cannabis is legally prescribed for by licensed doctors across the country. That sounds like a lot of medical applications, but you would be surprised how many people haven’t heard about those studies or the benefits of cannabis.

When you are a part of the cannabis community it is easy to think that everybody knows these things. After all you see articles and posts on social media all the time about new laws, legalization, medical studies. But that is a bubble. In most cases, if you aren’t actively looking for cannabis news or information, it isn’t very likely to pop up unless it is a major story.

On 4/20, there is just that little bit more attention the entire community and industry gets to share this information with a wider audience. While many may still not support the full legalization of cannabis, helping them to understand how much it truly helps people is an important step in the right direction.

4/20 is a celebration of culture

It is not very often that there is a community of millions of people, all passionate about the same thing which happens to be completely illegal according to the federal government. Think about it.

As a culture that developed in the shadows over decades, the cannabis community is different from any other. A group of people who were traditionally artists, musicians and hippies has spread to encompass every type of person out there. From your grandma to wall street businessmen and women, somebody you know is likely a consumer.

The culture has begun evolving over the years from the small, close-knit community of growers in online forums to massive festivals headlined by A-list artists. And it has become even more accessible to someone who is trying to learn more about cannabis and the community surrounding it.

What better way to dip your feet into the culture of cannabis than going to your local 4/20 festival or event? And if it’s an underground event in a illegal state, even better. Because that’s where it all started, and has stayed for many across the country still.

Because its FUN

Consider this one an honorable mention. 4/20 is basically the only holiday for cannabis lovers (some would argue 7/10 is growing in popularity now as well). While spreading awareness about the war on drugs and pushing for legalization are important aspects of 4/20 celebrations, it’s also about just that; celebrating!

The fact that you can go to Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado on 4/20 and consume cannabis publicly with thousands of others without persecution is a big deal. The fact that there will be hundreds of public 4/20 celebrations across the country today is huge. Just 10 years ago, almost none of it would be happening…at least in public.

Some people miss the old days where the community was smaller and more close-knit, with underground celebrations where you had to be “in the know” to go. Well, you can still find plenty of those across the country too. Because as big of a day as 4/20 is, and the difference it can make, it’s important to remember that millions of people are still at risk of arrest and prison time to simply possessing a plant.

First New York cannabis dispensaries to open on tribal land

First New York cannabis dispensaries to open on tribal land

New York cannabis dispensaries

The New York legal cannabis industry may be delayed by politicians and bureaucracy, but that isn’t stopping Native tribes from rolling out their own markets.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe based in Akwesasne will be the first to launch a regulated cannabis market in New York state. Beginning April 15, several Tribal businesses will open their doors to sell cannabis flower, edibles and other cannabis products to consumers.

The Tribe is able to do so thanks to their Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance. The ordinance states that adults 21 years old or older can transport, possess, and use up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.

Once New York legalized cannabis officially in 2020, the option to legalize the plant on tribal lands became more enticing. Not beholden to state laws and regulations regarding the plant, the Tribe was free to establish their own regulatory framework to permit sales and possession.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is also the first in the country to regulate and license tribal member-owned businesses for cannabis.

According to the Tribe, licensing fees collected from legal cannabis operations will be used to keep community members employed and fund a wide range of community services. Additionally the funds will help support educational scholarships, public safety, road maintenance, elder assistance, health care, and community organizations.

Tribal Chief Michael Conners said he believes the system will benefit the community while providing a safe product for consumers.

“We are confident that the hard work of the tribally licensed cannabis business owners will result in loyal customers from beyond Akwesasne,” Conners said. “We know that it took a while, but we are confident that our system is designed to provide quality product, in a regulated system, with Compliance oversight and a qualified Board of Managers to see that all regulations are followed for the safety of our community and consumers.”