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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.

Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A hemp industry grey area

Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A hemp industry grey area

Does delta-8 THC get you high?

Delta-8 THC is the latest cannabinoid to take over the hemp “grey” market, after CBD had its run in 2019 and 2020 before regulation on CBD products began. However D8 THC is likely to face a similar fate soon enough, and some states aren’t waiting around for the FDA to start regulating it.

So how does a hot new cannabinoid like this come about without regulation, and is Delta-8 THC legal?

What is Delta-8 THC?

What may be a surprise to some is that D8 THC is not a newly discovered cannabinoid. Pharmacological knowledge of D8 THC has been around since 1941 when its partial synthesis was discovered by Roger Adams. It is an isomer of Delta-9 THC, meaning that it has an identical molecular formula to Delta-9 THC, but Delta-8 THC is arranged differently which creates a variation in chemical properties.

But like many other cannabinoids including Delta-9 THC, scientific data surrounding Delta-8 THC was suppressed soon after its discovery, with the Marihuana Tax Act already being in effect since 1937. That changed with the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018.

Following the federal legalization of hemp, a lot of farmers hopped on the CBD trend and saturated the market with biomass. But just like CBD, Delta-8 THC can also be extracted.

D8 THC is not as prevalent in hemp as CBD, and not as potent as Delta-9 THC. But that hasn’t stopped producers and consumers from capitalizing.

More money, more effects

If Delta-8 THC was all made up by illicit market producers trying to take advantage of the uneducated consumer, it surely wouldn’t be as popular as it has become. That is to say in the mind of consumers, D8 THC is a “legal” replacement for Delta-9 THC.

For someone living in a state with no access to medical or recreational cannabis, hemp is more than likely legal. Since Delta-8 can be extracted from hemp, and hemp is legal, Delta-8 is technically legal too, for now.

With the CBD market completely oversaturated, D8 THC also presents a unique opportunity for hemp producers to still make a profit off their hemp. Being a very close relative of Delta-9 THC, a massive market for those trying to get the “high” of Delta-9 without breaking the law in their state has been created.

Just since the beginning of 2021, Delta-8 THC has grown massively in popularity. It has become available in vape carts and edibles in head shops across the country and also gives consumers the option to have it shipped right to their door online.

However that may all be changing quicker than consumers and producers hoped.

States start taking action

While the FDA might just be catching wind of Delta-8 THC and are considering looking into the new hot cannabinoid, individual states have already taken notice, and they aren’t waiting to take action.

Vermont is the latest state to pass rulings that state D8 THC is now illegal, and they aren’t alone either. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah have all banned the sale of Delta-8 THC.

With so many states jumping to ban D8 THC so quickly, it isn’t a good sign for the future. Ultimately the reason that Delta-8 may fail is because of the lack of regulation. Without regulation, there will always be bad actors in the industry pushing fake and dangerous products.

A clear example of this issue gained nationwide attention in 2019 after several people died from ingesting illicit market Delta-9 vape cartridges, and hundreds more wound up in the hospital. The same problem could easily plague the rising Delta-8 industry, and that has lawmakers and consumers concerned.

While many are willing to take the risk and have Delta-8 THC delivered from an online service without knowing the true contents or lab results of the product, just as many are not. While there are a handful of reliable Delta-8 suppliers with lab testing provided, there are just as many if not more that don’t include lab results.

So what’s the solution?

Regulate Delta-8 THC or make it illegal

The question that many are asking right now is, will Delta-8 THC be regulated or just made illegal?

Unfortunately for consumers and producers, the latter is much more likely. Compared to CBD which has very little to no psychoactive effects, Delta-8 is described as a more subtle version of Delta-9 THC by consumers.

In a state like Utah where recreational cannabis is still illegal, Delta-8 is no different than Delta-9 in the eyes of legislators and regulators because the consumer can still get high from consuming it. So why would they allow one and not the other?

At least we can’t argue that they aren’t being consistent.

As for the potential for regulation, it is possible but unlikely in the near future. For example, despite being legalized in 2018, the USDA’s final ruling regarding hemp production wasn’t released until January of this year. The FDA has only recently begun cracking down on the unregulated CBD industry, sending out multiple emails to producers in March of this year warning about false advertising and making medical claims about CBD products.

But the USDA ruling doesn’t even address Delta-8 THC, let alone set a limit on its production. There is no evidence that the FDA is currently investigating Delta-8 either. So while we don’t expect there to be a federal ban on Delta-8 in the near future, we are likely to see more states take action on their own.

Colorado passed medical and recreational cannabis and has a thriving legal industry, yet is still choosing to keep Delta-8 THC illegal. Other states are going to take notice, and many may follow suit.

For now, if you want to try Delta-8 for yourself, make sure to search for a verified producer that provides detailed lab results from a certified lab. While the science may still be out on the safety of D8 THC itself, as long as the product is made properly with clean ingredients and certified by test results it may be the best alternative to Delta-9 for those who can’t get it for the meantime.

Vermont Joins List of States to Ban Delta-8 THC

Vermont Joins List of States to Ban Delta-8 THC

Delta 8 THC banned in Vermont
Vermont regulators have officially categorized hemp-based Delta-8 THC products as illegal under state law.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Farms, and Markets (AAFM) informed all registered hemp cultivators that Delta-8 THC products are not regarded as legal hemp products in an email sent out last Friday, April 23.

With this statute, Vermont joins 12 other states that have categorized the manufacturing and sale of Delta-8 THC products as illegal under state law; Delta-8 THC has also been banned in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah.

On their website, Vermont AAFM clarifies the state’s position further by acknowledging that hemp plants naturally produce Delta-8 THC in trace amounts. However, products with intoxicating levels of the cannabinoid are created using isomerization, which synthetically converts CBD to THC.

The Vermont Hemp Rules state that, “A processor shall not use synthetic cannabinoids in the production of any hemp product or hemp-infused product” (6.3). With this rule, the manufacturing, labeling, or sale of any Delta-8 product in the state of Vermont would violate state law. As such, anyone who distributes, uses, or possesses one of these products may face criminal penalties in the state.

Many CBD retailers have seen great financial gains due to the recent proliferation of Delta-8 throughout the states. This clarification may heavily impact their newfound revenues.

Meanwhile, the hemp industry in Alabama recently praised lawmakers there after they pulled an amendment proposal that would have categorized Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC as controlled substances.

Delta 8 THC Explained: The New THC?

Delta 8 THC Explained: The New THC?

Delta 8 THC vs Delta 9 THC

It’s Delta-9’s close relative, but why is it becoming so popular now?

If you’ve been in a head shop or a smoke circle recently, you might have heard about or even seen Delta 8 THC. This hemp-derived compound has been growing in popularity over the last year, but why?

In 2018, the federal government passed the Farm Bill which legalized hemp across the country. While classifying hemp as hemp is as simple as measuring the Delta 9 THC content and ensuring it is below .3%, Delta 8 THC is not the same thing, and therefore not included in that judgement.

In other words, as long as D9 THC is below .3%, D8 THC is irrelevant. With this loophole and discoveries of Delta 8’s effects, the race was on to start production of Delta 8 THC products.

Just like D9 THC, our knowledge about the effects and benefits of D8 THC are limited due to lack of research. For the most part, the resources for learning about Delta 8 THC come from first hand accounts of users.

What we do know about D8 THC is that it is chemically different from delta-9-THC by only a few atomic bonds, and according to the National Cancer Institute is defined as, “An analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.”

In other words, it sounds a lot like plain old Delta 9 THC. However the experiences noted by Delta 8 THC users reveal some slight differences.

Does Delta 8 THC get you high?

The short answer seems to be yes. Most descriptions of the Delta 8 THC high note that it is more mild or “lighter” than a traditional Delta 9 THC high. User have also said that the high feels almost identical to D9 THC but without the associated paranoia or anxiety many experience.

Other anecdotes note how it can take multiple hits of a D8 THC vape to get a similar effect to a Delta 9 THC vape of similar potency, and that the flavor differs, and not always in a good way. Granted, taste is typically associated with processing, especially when it comes to distillate cartridges.

The most popular form of consumption seems to be vaping and consuming D8 edibles like gummies. However just like CBD, you can also find Delta 8 THC flower and other extracts.

Is it worth it?

Anybody who lives in a state where cannabis is still illegal or only available medically, or anyone who does not want to risk their safety with an illicit market Delta 9 THC vape cartridge might find Delta 8 THC to be a very strong alternative.

For now, D8 THC is completely legal on the federal level and available in 38 states with multiple online retailers that ship nationwide. That’s a very appealing offer when the alternative isn’t available anywhere. There are no dangers currently associated with D8 THC consumption compared to D9 THC, and the high seems to be at least comparable.

However as with any unregulated “grey market” product, Delta 8 THC should be treated with more scrutiny and consumed carefully compared to its state-regulated cousin.