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Is Delta-8 THC legal and are states banning it? Move over CBD and THC. Delta-8 THC is a rising star in the cannabis industry. This mildly intoxicating cannabinoid’s popularity is skyrocketing.
While this hot cannabinoid is all the rage, its dubious legal status has prompted many lawmakers to restrict its sale. For unaware consumers, delta-8’s psychoactivity could catch them off guard. Here is what you need to know about the delta-8 controversy.
What Is Delta-8 THC?
You've heard of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That's the cannabinoid that produces cannabis’ signature “high” known for its intoxicating and euphoric effects. Cannabis is made up of more than 100 different cannabinoids.
Delta-8 THC is the latest cannabinoid to get the spotlight.
As an analog of THC, delta-8 has several therapeutic benefits:
- Stimulates appetite
- Reduces nausea
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces pain
Similar to THC, delta-8 produces some intoxicating effects, although it is not as potent as delta-9 THC. In addition, delta-8 is found in very small concentrations in cannabis.
Generally, delta-8 is derived from hemp, a legal subcategory of cannabis that must contain under 0.3% delta-9 THC levels.
Because it is found in such low amounts in cannabis, manufacturers must process the cannabinoids with higher concentration (CBD or THC) to chemically convert them to delta-8 THC.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, delta-8 is not specifically regulated. Industrial hemp production is legal, but this new psychotropic cannabinoid derived from hemp has some lawmakers, federal agencies, and consumers worried.
Where Is Delta-8 THC Legal and Where is it Being Banned?
The delta-8 THC market may have seen its glory days come and gone. As its popularity has exceeded expectations, this new market has caught the crosshairs of skeptical lawmakers, industry associations, federal agencies, and consumers.
As of late April 2021, delta-8 has been banned in 12 states (and counting):
- Rhode Island
Other states such as North Dakota, Oregon, and Alabama are set to be next on the list of states that restrict delta-8 THC sales. An Oklahoma bill is proposing to include delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC in the legal definition of cannabis.
The U.S. Hemp Authority, a nationally-recognized hemp product certification organization, announced in a March 2021 news release that they will not certify delta-8 products.
All of the controversy over hemp-derived delta-8 stems from its mild psychotropic effects and unregulated market.
When hemp was legalized in 2018, lawmakers and consumers believed that hemp’s derivative products would not produce a high. Now, hemp-derived delta-8 THC offers a loophole for consumers to get legally high from hemp.
In states where THC is not legal, processors and consumers use the Farm Bill's loophole to their advantage. Ordering hemp-derived delta-8 products is currently unregulated and quasi-legal until legislative action pumps the brakes on this runaway market.
How Is Delta-8 THC Made?
In the hemp industry, CBD products have flooded the market. In some cases, hemp growers and processors are left with an excess of hemp material.
Since delta-8 is found in very small amounts of cannabis, it does not make sense to extract it directly. In order to diversify their product lines, manufacturers have been converting CBD (and delta-9 THC) to delta-8 through a chemical conversion process.
In the hemp world, delta-8 is made in a variety of ways, but here is the general process:
- CBD isolate is extracted from hemp flower, processed, and converted into a distillate.
- A solvent, usually nonpolar organic, is used to dissolve the CBD isolate.
- An acid reagent is added to cause a chemical reaction that can take up to 18 hours.
- The converted extract is neutralized with an alkaline material through a washing and drying process.
- Any converted delta-9 THC is removed using chromatography technology.
- Delta-8 is tested to confirm its potency and purity.
How to Sell Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC’s rising popularity is hard to gauge due to its sudden meteoric rise. However, New Frontier Data revealed that delta-8 sales reached at least $10 million in 2020.
With such high stakes for legal consequences, processors and retailers are expected to follow best practices throughout the supply chain to avoid criminal charges when federal agencies start to punish delta-8 manufacturers.
As a cannabis company, navigating the challenges of the unregulated delta-8 THC market can be difficult without guidance. Follow these standard practices to maintain quality of product and customer trust.
- Avoid dubious marketing: Do not make delta-8’s psychotropic effects the selling point.
- Promote safe serving sizes: Since studies on delta-8 are lacking, err on the side of caution and limit the cannabinoid’s concentration to safe levels.
- Remain state compliant: Audit your manufacturing process, ingredients, and labeling practices to avoid extra scrutiny.
- Listen to consumers: Be as transparent as you can with your customers and have an open line of communication where they can come to you with complaints or concerns.
- Vet your supply chain: Ensure that every part of your supply chain is complying with legal guidelines and current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations.
- Only sell to adults: Online retailers should include age gates on their e-commerce pages to limit the sale of delta-8 to adults over the age of 21.
How to Buy Delta-8 THC
Whether you are looking for a new intoxicating experience or want to test the relieving effects of delta-8 THC, there are a couple of ways you can avoid having a bad experience. Follow these tips to ensure you are consuming delta-8 THC of the highest quality and purity:
- Look for third-party lab testing: If you are buying online, buy from companies that include a Certificate of Analysis (COA) provided by an independent commercial testing lab. A COA ensures your product is free of solvents, pesticides, and heavy metals.
- Buy from licensed retailers: If you live in a legal cannabis state, only shop from licensed cannabis stores. Licensed retailers are required to test for contaminants and potency. Unregulated suppliers do not test their products.
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