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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.

California cannabis farmers markets? New bill would make it possible

California cannabis farmers markets? New bill would make it possible

California cannabis farmers markets could become a thing

It is not secret that small cannabis farms in California have had a rough few years. A new bill aims to help them out.

A new bill introduced into the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on Tuesday (4/26/22) would allow small scale cannabis farmers to sell their products at farmers markets in California. Introduced by Assembly member Jim Wood, he has seen the issues that small cannabis operations have dealt with and wants to give them a hand.

“It is no secret that cannabis businesses throughout the state are struggling, whether it’s taxes, compliance costs, competing with the illicit market or other challenges, but the focus of AB 2691 is to help legal cannabis farmers who grow less than 1 acre of cannabis get consumer recognition for their unique products, much as has been done for craft beer, artisanal wine and other family farm agricultural products. Giving these smaller farmers opportunities at locally approved events to expose the public to their products increases consumer choice and offers farmers a better chance to reach retail shelves which is their ultimate goal. This is not about circumventing retailers, but growing the industry overall. My office has always been open to those who may have concerns about this bill and I’m here to listen to their concerns and their proposed solutions.”

The Origins Council, a cannabis advocacy organization that represents historic, rural, cannabis-producing regions across California has expressed their support for the bill. Genine Coleman and the group’s 900 or so members have fought consistently for the rights and protections of small, local farms that have been in operation in the state for decades.

“The vast majority of them are producing half an acre or less of cannabis, so this is definitely a huge potential opportunity for our membership,” Coleman said. “For small-scale producers to have direct marketing and sales opportunities with consumers is really critical.”

However not everybody is on board with the new arrangement. The Executive Director of the Davis Farmers Market Alliance, Randi MacNear, says what she oversees is a “food business”. Even if the new bill passes, she says it is unlikely anything will change at their market.

“We really are interested in selling food, so at this point, cannabis is not a food,” MacNear said. “We’re trying to increase our local farmers. We’re trying to get new, emerging Yolo County farmers in here and give them a space to sell, so I think that probably we would stick with that concentration.”

MacNear did add that the decision ultimately comes down to the Davis City Council.

“I’m sure you’ll see some of this product at other markets but not here in Davis,” MacNear said.

Assembly Bill 2691 is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it must pass before entering the full Assembly followed by the Senate. If approved by all of the above, the bill goes to the governor’s desk for signing.

Supporters argue that the main purpose of this bill is to help small farmers who don’t have the same access channels to consumers as larger competition have the opportunity to grow their customer base and their brand at the local level.

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.

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis dispensaries

When Glen Youngkin was elected Governor of Virginia after a heated race in 2021, many cannabis advocates began to question the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. Despite legalizing cannabis for recreational use earlier in the year, the state has yet to get the industry rolling in any real way.

It isn’t uncommon for a state to take more than a year or two to establish their regulatory framework and begin adult-use sales. However in Virginia’s case, cannabis was legalized by a Democrat governor, who was soon replaced by a Republican.

Youngkin holds a different view on cannabis compared to his predecessor, and now those views have begun impacting the future prospects of a recreational cannabis industry in Virginia.

On April 7, 2021, Virginia became the first state in the South to begin the process of legalizing adult-use cannabis. HB2312 (Herring) and SB1406 (Ebbin; Lucas), introduced by Governor Northam and passed by the 2021 General Assembly, lay out a three year process to legalize cannabis and create a regulatory framework for the sale of the product.

However while a recent General Assembly session saw lawmakers increase accessibility for medical cannabis patients, it failed to expedite Virginia recreational cannabis sales, and added new penalties for cannabis possession. So what happened?

The original bill as previously mentioned included a three-year timeline to implement regulations and framework for a recreational cannabis industry. The latest General Assembly session was voting on whether to shorten this timeframe, which would have expedited retail cannabis sales to this September.

However with the latest amendments to the original bills, it is unlikely that a Virginia recreational cannabis industry will be open by the original 2024 deadline.

Lobbyists influenced Virginia legislators into believing that it is safer for several large corporations to produce the products rather than having hundreds of small batch operations, according to Happy Trees co-founder Josiah Ickes. Happy Trees is a garden store supplying cannabis growers in the state.

“We have all these small breweries in Richmond,” Ickes said. “It would be kinda like if we said: ‘Oh, well look at all these small breweries, they need to go away because we don’t know if they’re creating safe beer.’”

Virginians will still be able to possess up to two ounces of cannabis flower for personal use without penalty. For comparison, in Colorado where cannabis has been legal since 2012, consumers are only allowed one ounce in their possession at a time.

Those who aren’t waiting for a legal cannabis industry to open up also have the option to grow their own cannabis. With the current framework and delay of a recreational industry, it is likely that a gift/donation industry will begin to develop in Virginia.

Coincidentally Virginia borders Washington, D.C., where cannabis is also legal but has no established industry. DC now has a thriving gift/donation industry where consumers will donate a certain amount in exchange for a gift (in the form of cannabis), creating a loophole where technically there isn’t a “sale” of cannabis happening.

There have been plenty of efforts to shut down this grey area industry, but efforts thus far have failed. With a successful market right next door, Virginians are likely to replicate these practices so people can still buy and sell their cannabis without technically breaking the law.

One of the positives to come out of the latest General Assembly meeting was regarding medical cannabis patients and their access to the products they need. Governor Youngkin recently signed new legislation which eliminated the requirement to register with the state Board of Pharmacy before being approved to purchase medical cannabis products.

Would be Virginia medical cannabis patients already have to get a referral from a medical provider in order to get access to cannabis. The latest amendment would appear to be simply removing an unnecessary step for patients.

When lawmakers originally approved the sale of low-concentration THC oil for medical patients in 2019, the Board of Pharmacy issued just 1,377 medical cannabis cards. That number grew to 7,135 in 2020, and ballooned to over 33,000 in 2021. The Board has issued over 10,000 cards from January to April 2022 already.

Brandy, a resident of Richmond, VA began smoking cannabis at age 15. Now 37, she grows plants in her home. Citizens can grow up to four plants legally per household.

Brandy has a state-approved prescription for cannabis to treat anxiety and bipolar disorder, but said she prefers growing cannabis as opposed to going to a dispensary, because it’s cheaper. Health insurance does not cover medical cannabis.

“In Virginia, it really sucks,” Brandy said. “You go in and they have the little half gram carts, and it’s $65.”

With a retail market still not established, Brandy said she prefers growing her own supply versus buying illegally from a dealer.

“This way I know exactly what goes in it,” Brandy said. “It’s all organic product, there isn’t chemicals in it.”

Currently there are only four state-licensed medical cannabis companies that can provide cannabis to patients in five health districts across Virginia. There are still several health districts that don’t have a single dispensary, making patients have to travel long distances to get their medicine.

Limited access, expensive pricing and the lack of a legal industry has put Virginia on a path that is leaving many unsure of the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. One can safely assume that there won’t a regulated, adult-use cannabis industry in the state until at least 2024.

However one can also expect to start seeing some semblance of an underground, grey market cannabis industry develop as consumers find ways to sell and purchase recreational cannabis without breaking the specific rules of the law.