One of the hottest things in the CBD market right now is Delta-8 THC. Most manufacturers willing to put it in their CBD products refer to it simply as Delta-8. They leave off the THC part so as to not tip off regulators looking to cause trouble. Unfortunately, Delta-8 THC exposes a loophole in federal and state law.
That loophole may not exist forever. As Delta-8’s popularity grows, it is starting to attract the attention of people who have the ability to ban it. There are already rumblings that bans are on the way. Whether or not they actually come to fruition remains to be seen.
To understand the whole Delta-8 controversy, you have to understand some basic principles about cannabinoids in general, as well as CBD and THC.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds capable of activating cannabinoid receptors in the human brain. These cannabinoids are found in all species of cannabis plants. There are more than a hundred of them. CBD and THC are the two most commonly known cannabinoids and the ones on which the cannabis industry is built.
Some of the differences between cannabinoids are quite distinct. Others are more subtle. Likewise, those differences cause different reactions in the brain. For instance, THC causes the high associated with marijuana. Although CBD doesn’t make you high, it can help you feel quite relaxed.
Researchers are currently looking into other cannabinoids in hopes of learning how they affect the brain. It could be that future cannabis products are developed around one or more of these lesser-known cannabinoids.
Regulating CBD and THC Products
In terms of federal law, THC is still illegal. CBD is not. Thus, cannabis plants grown for the purposes of extracting CBD are allowed under federal law as long as their THC content does not exceed 0.3%. Retail products sold under the CBD label are restricted in the same way. They must have a THC content of 0.3% or less.
This is where things get sticky with Delta-8 THC. The THC referred to under federal law is Delta-9 THC. Again, it is the THC that creates the marijuana high. Delta-8 THC is actually not a distinct and separate compound. Rather, it is a Delta-9 isomer; Delta-8’s molecular formula is identical to Delta-9’s. The only difference is that its atoms are arranged differently within the molecule.
Federal and state regulations do not require cannabis growers or processors to test for Delta-8. Growers and processors are not even prohibited from including it in their products – even though Delta-8 can make you high.
Selling Products at Retail
Now that you know a bit more about Delta-8 THC, have you figured out why it could be problematic? Imagine going into the Pure Utah medical cannabis pharmacy in Payson, UT. You purchase a CBD product that works quite well for you. A few weeks later, you buy a similar CBD product from a retailer that is not a licensed pharmacy. This product makes you high. Why? Because it contains Delta-8 THC.
The states do not currently regulate Delta-8 THC because, until recently, it hasn’t been a problem. But now that growers and processors have uncovered a loophole in the law, they are more than willing to offer Delta-8 to customers. That is not necessarily a problem as long as products are clearly labeled. It becomes a problem when products are not clearly labeled.
For now, Delta-8 THC takes advantage of a loophole in the law. That loophole may close at some point in the future. We will have to wait and see.