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You can’t yet sell recreational cannabis in Texas, and you’d imagine certainly nowhere near the State Capitol in Austin, where restrictive medical cannabis laws allow dispensing by prescription only for a small handful of conditions. Or can you?

Just a few miles west of the Capitol Dome in a quiet suburban neighborhood lies Hometown Hero CBD, a veteran-supporting business that has made national news for its sales of joints, blunts, gummies, tinctures and vape cartridges offering a legal recreational high. They not only have a large Texas fan base, but they sell online to a multi-state audience, including consumers in states where cannabis is still illegal.

Their secret sauce? It’s products with the chemical compound Delta-8-THC, which is only slightly chemically different from the Delta-9 THC found in cannabis. Delta-8 can be extracted from hemp, and thus products made with it can be sold in any state where hemp possession is legal. And thanks to the Farm Bill of 2018, that’s pretty much everywhere (OK, Idaho, what’s your problem?)

Until 2018, nobody cared much about Delta-8; it was viewed as a less-potent byproduct of both cannabis and hemp. Today, according to New Leaf Data Services, it has become the fastest-growing segment of products derived from hemp. Its estimated sales are currently $10 million annually, and this figure may likely rocket upwards.

Of course, this is based on a loophole that could be closed. The Bill set limits on the amount of Delta-9 that hemp can contain — no more than 0.3 percent. But it makes no mention of Delta-8. While the psychoactive effects of Delta-8 are not exactly the same as its big brother, some users find it close enough for pain and stress relief or for a lighter sense of euphoria with less anxiety.

All this doesn’t guarantee that dealing with Delta-8 is risk-free. Federal and state government agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, are well are of the issue — realizing that the authors of the Farm Bill may not have done enough homework. So they are currently looking at their options for regulation and enforcement; limited, of course, by the Farm Bill’s operative language.

One tactic the DEA is trying out is to rule Delta-8 illegal if it is synthesized from hemp, rather than organically derived. Hometown Hero disagrees, their position being that whether the Delta-8 is derived from hemp or extracted from hemp, it is still a hemp byproduct and legally allowed. And certainly, there are pending lawsuits over this rule interpretation.

Could there soon be a movement to “Lite Cannabis” being sold in convenience stores and vending machines with no licensing or permits required? While this is not a prediction that industry observers are yet making, it certainly calls for the unfolding Delta-8 story to be an item on your watch list. KannaKnowledge will watch it too.