In the last couple of months, there has been a heated debate about the legality of delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (D8) which is an isomer of the popular delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). For a long time, the DEA has been quiet about this matter. Recently, representatives from the DEA made remarks to suggest that D8 is legal; because it’s only THC that is listed as a controlled substance.
Towards the close of 2021, several states went all out to put restrictions on the sale of delta 8 products, while some states placed complete bans on D8. This happened soon after delta 8 products had taken the cannabis market, threatening to oust D8 and CBD from their pedestals.
Delta 8 is a structural isomer of THC which is clearly prohibited under federal law. The 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp at the federal level defines legal hemp as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC. THC is psychoactive and capable of inducing euphoria, while CBD is not. Delta 8 on the other hand is able to induce euphoria. This has caused a lot of confusion in the market with many describing D8 as a means of getting “legally high.” Meanwhile, this has triggered excitement in the market resulting in vibrancy and increased sales of D8 products. The U.S hemp Round Table has in the past expressed dissatisfaction about the D8 frenzy.
Hemp enthusiasts are excited by recent remarks that were made by DEA representatives when asked about the legality of D8 products. During a virtual Town Hall meeting that was held in September 2021, one DEA official was asked about the agency’s take on the legality of delta 8 products. He responded by mentioning that only products that exceed 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis are controlled under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). He went further to add that THC isomers are not explicitly banned per the 2018 Farm Bill.
In a different letter that was addressed to legislators in Alabama, DEA officials claimed that compounds that do not exceed 0.3% THC by dry weight are hemp in nature and therefore not considered illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. He went further to express that “only tetrahydrocannabinol in or derived from the cannabis plant—not synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol—is subject to being excluded from control as a ‘tetrahydrocannabinol’ in hemp.” The DEA considers illegal THC products to be those that are made from synthetic “non-cannabis materials.”
Most D8 products in the market are synthesized from hemp-derived CBD. This means that the D8 products don’t contain synthetic THC. That said, the legality of D8 is not under the oversight of the DEA but that of the FDA and the USDA. Therefore, these comments from the DEA will not do much to change the course of D8 in different states. We will have to wait until the FDA and USDA clarify issues. Meanwhile, our eyes are set on delta-10 which is giving D8 a run for its money.