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Why Delta-8 is Being Made Illegal

Why Delta-8 is Being Made Illegal

Delta-8 THC is illegal

As quickly as Delta-8 THC blew up, it’s being made illegal by states across the country.

It was only a matter of time.

Consumers and entrepreneurs have been an enjoying a regulation free, sub-legal way to get high and profit from Delta-8 THC. Now the DEA and USDA have taken notice, and in addition to the numerous states already taking action to make Delta-8 illegal on their own terms, the official law regarding Delta-8 is becoming more clear.

In fact, the current laws regarding hemp may already have it covered.

What is Delta-8 THC?

A very, very close relative to Delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, Delta-8 THC is separated by just one subtle difference in its molecular structure. The similarity in molecular structure also leads to similar psychoactive effects although slightly suppressed.

Studies done on Delta-8 THC have revealed it to be roughly 75% the potency of traditional Delta-9 THC. With modern extraction technology and isolation techniques, manufacturers of D8 THC are able to produce products that get users high.

The reason that D8 THC is able to operate currently with near impunity is because of the wording of the 2018 Farm Bill. In the bill, “Hemp” is defined as:

The plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

Because the definition specifically includes Delta-9 THC and nothing else, this has been used by manufacturers as a de facto legalization of other tetrahydrocannabinols. However, looking a little more deeply into current rules and regulations on the books by the DEA and USDA, and depending on your definition of “synthetic”, the future of Delta-8 may have already been decided.

Synthetic Tetrahydrocannabinols

In August of 2020, the DEA released a set of interim rules regarding hemp. In this ruling they say, “For tetrahydrocannabinols that are naturally occurring constituents of the plant material, Cannabis sativa L., any material that contains 0.3% or less of D9 -THC by dry weight is not controlled, unless specifically controlled elsewhere under the CSA,” CSA being the Controlled Substances Act.

However in the same paragraph further down, we get to the part that matters to Delta-8 THC advocates; “For synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols, the concentration of D9 -THC is not a determining factor in whether the material is a controlled substance. All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances.

By establishing a difference between naturally occurring cannabinoids that are produced in hemp and those that are derived and enhanced synthetically, the DEA virtually made a ruling against Delta 8. This is because, to the likely surprise of many (including myself), Delta 8 THC while naturally occurring in hemp, is in fact synthetically made from CBD when produced for retail sale.

How Delta 8 THC is Made

All cannabinoids, from CBD to THC and beyond begin as CBGA. Because of the shared molecular structure of cannabinoids, manipulating them is simpler than it may seem. While Delta-8 is relatively new, producers have been using these methods to manipulate cannabinoids for a long time to find exotic new cannabinoids.

While Delta-8 THC exists in a wide range of cannabis strains, it is in minuscule, trace amounts. To extract and purify Delta-8 from raw plant material with less than one percent of the targeted cannabinoid is unprofitable. This is why producers have begun converting other, more prevalent cannabinoids like CBD and Delta-9 THC into Delta-8.

The process of creating Delta 8 from CBD is nothing new, and is actually a patented isomerization process. It involves dissolving CBD in a solvent like heptane. An acid is then added into the solution and stirred constantly up to 18 hours on a heat plate. Once the chemical reaction is complete it will separate, where it can then be washed and dried and tested.

Compared to how your average Delta-9 extract is made, Delta-8 is a more lengthy, “synthetic” process. The Delta-8 is not there in the beginning, it is created in the end. And that’s why it’s a problem.

What does this mean for Delta 8 THC?

Unfortunately for producers and consumers alike, the great days of Delta-8 THC are likely coming to an end sooner rather than later. Over a dozen states have already banned Delta-8 THC, and more are considering passing their own laws against the cannabinoid. With the ruling by the DEA being brought into the open, it will be difficult for manufacturers to argue that Delta-8 is not in fact a synthetic cannabinoid.

In other words, those who continue to manufacture and sell Delta-8, even right now, are technically manufacturing and distributing a Schedule 1 substance. States in which Delta-8 THC has not been explicitly banned likely don’t need to worry about prosecution for the time being, as no official ruling on Delta-8 specifically has been passed down.

But as concern grows and more states ban Delta-8, it is going to become more difficult and less profitable for manufacturers to continue making it. Soon enough, Delta-8 will likely be another banned substance nationwide.

CULTA Launches Maryland’s First Cannabis Tissue Culture Program

CULTA Launches Maryland’s First Cannabis Tissue Culture Program

CULTA medical marijuana dispensary Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland medical cannabis cultivator CULTA has launched the state program’s first tissue culture lab in an effort to further hone its approach to craft cannabis and extracts. Chief Cannabis Officer and co-founder Mackie Barch said that it’s a natural next step in the company’s growth plans and cultivation goals.

The team took their first tissue culture clones on April 8. (The news comes just a few months after CULTA moved its headquarters to a new office in Bethesda to accommodate a long-term growth strategy, which includes plans to add 100 more employees across its farm in Cambridge, retail dispensary in Baltimore and new HQ.)

CULTA’s current collection of 26 cultured strains includes: Dosido 22-22, Poochie Love and Scooby Snacks #2. New mothers are expected in the coming months. The plan is to bank all of CULTA’s genetics in the lab by the end of the year.

The prime motivation was “to ensure redundancy of our genetics, the ability to create clean new moms and to be able to store genetics for long periods of time,” Barch said. “The long-term implications are to ensure we don’t lose prized genetics to disease and age. Additionally, we can store more genetics in a safer manner and bring them back as needed.”

Cannabis strains can be moved in and out of production without a lot of additional cost. This flexibility translates to a greater engagement with sales trends in Maryland.

Looking ahead, the lab will also allow CULTA to develop an in-house breeding program.

“Plant tissue culture is not a hard process to do, but it takes a lot of knowledge and skill to master,” CULTA Tissue Culture Lab Supervisor Isaac Fisher said. “Lab experience is extremely beneficial, especially if it involves microbiology, mycology, botany or biochemistry. No new employees we’re brought on specifically for the Tissue Culture lab. I have past experience working in a molecular genetics lab, but started out at CULTA doing outdoor cultivation and then working in the extraction lab before helping start the tissue culture lab.”

Texas Marijuana Concentrates and Psychedelics Bill Passed in Senate

Texas Marijuana Concentrates and Psychedelics Bill Passed in Senate

Texas marijuana concentrates and psychedelics got a big win in the state senate

The Texas Senate has approved House-passed bills to reduce criminal penalties for possessing marijuana concentrates and require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. But because senators amended both pieces of legislation, they must first head back to their originating chamber before they can be sent to the governor’s desk.

Meanwhile, advocates are closely monitoring a separate bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis program, which cleared the House and was referred to a Senate committee on Thursday. But the fate of that proposal remains murky as a legislative deadline approaches. It must be acted on in the Senate State Affairs Committee in order to advance to the floor, and the end of the session is nearing.

Under HB 1802, which passed the Senate on Saturday in a 25-5 vote, the state would be required to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center. As amended by a House committee, it would also mandate a clinical trial into psilocybin for veterans with PTSD, in addition to a broader review of the scientific literature on all three substances.

The Senate adopted a balanced budget amendment to the bill clarifying that the psychedelic studies wouldn’t be carried out unless there’s funding allocated the effort—a situation already accounted for by a contingent rider for the funds.

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R), who also served as U.S. energy secretary, has called on lawmakers to approve the psychedelics legislation.

The cannabis concentrates measure that also advanced through the Senate is a modest reform compared to another proposal to more broadly decriminalize marijuana possession that recently passed the House but has since stalled. But if enacted, HB 2593 would mark the first time that Texas has reduced penalties associated with marijuana since the 1970s.

Cannabis cultivators again facing severe wildfire season

Cannabis cultivators again facing severe wildfire season

forest fires threaten cannabis farmers in the west for another year.

Historic drought conditions again will bring the threat of extreme wildfires to U.S. cannabis growers, especially those in Western states.

Wildfires and the ash and smoke created by them are becoming a bigger threat to life and property as average temperatures rise and water resources dwindle amid climate change.

Western states experienced historic destruction in the summer of 2020, when everything seemed to be on fire, including cannabis farms in California and Oregon.

Smoke and ash also blocked out essential sunlight and delayed the growth of outdoor marijuana plants by weeks, leaving growers with less-than-ideal options for when to harvest their plants.

Last season’s 58,950 wildfires burned 10.1 million acres across the United States, double the acreage burned in 2019 and almost 2.3 million more acres than the 10-year-average.

But that is not uncommon.

In four of the past 10 years – 2020, 2017, 2015 and 2012 – wildfires have burned 9 million or more acres in the U.S.

Three of Colorado’s largest recorded wildland fires – Cameron Peak, East Troublesome and Pine Gulch – occurred in 2020, tearing through more than half a million acres combined.

California had its worst wildfire season on record, with an estimated 4.3 million acres burned, 33 fatalities and 10,488 structures damaged or destroyed.

And the conditions that feed large wildfires already are worse this year.

Reservoirs across much of the West are sitting at below average levels, and snowpack runoff is not expected to provide much relief.

Southwestern states, including Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, recorded their driest April-March period in 126 years.

The situation is similar in California and Colorado.

In fact, the amount of water in the snowpack has dropped to below normal for much of the West, excluding parts of Alaska and Washington state.

A map showing the lack of snow water going into this years wildfire season.

Drought conditions, a key indicator for predicting wildfire seasons, escalated this month compared to the same time last year.

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest outlook, released last week, shows that much of the area where cannabis is grown in the West and Southwest is experiencing extreme and exceptional drought conditions, which can lead to water emergencies and widespread crop and pasture losses.

Louisiana Governor Says Cannabis Legalization ‘Is Going To Happen’

Louisiana Governor Says Cannabis Legalization ‘Is Going To Happen’

Louisiana cannabis legalization is coming according to the governor

Just a day after a bill to legalize marijuana in Louisiana stalled in the state legislature, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said on his live radio program Wednesday that cannabis legalization “is going to happen in Louisiana eventually.”

“In the past, as a legislator and as governor, I’ve been opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana,” the governor said on the monthly program, Ask the Governor. “I will tell you, I have come to believe that it is going to happen in Louisiana eventually.”

Edwards stressed that while he isn’t yet endorsing legalization—he declined to take a position on pending legislation in the House—he wants to “make sure that we do it right.”

“I suspect you’re going to see a lot of interest and studying the other states and making sure that we have a clear path forward,” he said. “One of the things that I’ve always said is that before we do it here, we need to make sure we study and learn all the lessons to be learned.”

“I think there’s a growing number of people who are sort of where I am,” the governor continued, “not quite comfortable yet but understanding that we’re likely to get there.”

Last month, in a pivot from his years of quickly dismissing questions about legalization, Edwards said that he had “great interest” in a marijuana bill that had advanced out of a House committee just hours earlier. That proposal, however, hit a speed bump on Tuesday after the full House of Representatives rejected a complementary tax measure.

Despite the setback for legalization broadly, numerous other cannabis-related bills have been advancing in the conservative state this session. The House last week approved legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, which is now awaiting Senate consideration.

A separate House-passed measure that is also before the Senate would give the state’s existing medical marijuana patients access to cannabis flower and permit them to lawfully smoke it. Currently patients are able to vaporize cannabis preparations via a “metered-dose inhaler,” but they cannot purchase whole-plant flower and smoking is not allowed.

Edwards proactively brought up both of those measure in the radio appearance on Wednesday, suggesting he is closely tracking them and is potentially open to signing the proposals if they reach his desk this session.

DEA may allow companies to grow cannabis for scientific research

DEA may allow companies to grow cannabis for scientific research

DEA cannabis may be getting better for scientists

After years of delay under the Trump administration, the federal government is preparing to award the first new licenses for cultivating cannabis for scientific research, giving U.S. marijuana operators a crack at entering a business that has been dominated by the University of Mississippi for more than 50 years.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration late last week signaled it would award the licenses soon by issuing a “Memorandum of Agreement” (MOA) to “a number” of organizations that applied for the opportunity, according to an agency news release. The move will allow greater research into marijuana and its potential medicinal properties. That, in turn, could spur more doctors to recommend medical cannabis, which likely would boost sales.

“We expect to receive our registration number this afternoon,” said Dr. Steven Groff, founder of Groff North America in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, one of three entities that on Friday received an MOA from the DEA.

The recipients are supposed to review the MOAs and return them to the DEA with comments or suggestions. Groff already returned its MOA, and two other recipients told MJBizDaily they’d return their paperwork in the coming days or weeks.

Besides Groff, at least two other organizations confirmed they’d received an MOA:

  • Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona.
  • Biopharmaceutical Research Co. (BRC) in Castroville, California.

A DEA spokesperson declined to answer if any other MOAs were issued. It’s also unclear when, or if, the DEA intends to issue more MOAs.

“This has the potential to create a renaissance of cannabis research for decades,” Dr. Sue Sisley, president of the Scottsdale Research Institute, said in a phone interview. Sisley, a longtime cannabis advocate, has been studying marijuana’s potential therapeutic benefits.

George Hodgin, the CEO of BRC, echoed Sisley, saying in a phone interview: “This is a massive regulatory step.”

Currently, the University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss, is the only institution in the United States with DEA permission to cultivate cannabis for federally approved research, having been awarded its license in 1968.

Critics complain that the cannabis grown there doesn’t reflect what’s being sold in the marketplace today.

To expand the number of entities with federal licenses for cultivating marijuana for research, the Obama administration announced an application process in its final year. Nearly 30 businesses, research institutes, universities and other entities applied.

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