Just as lawmakers will argue over the original intent of the Constitution’s framers when interpreting the law, so are there disagreements over the original intent of the 2018 Farm Bill. While it only set limits on Delta-9-THC by name, should Delta-8 also be a controlled substance — or not?
The industry is split about who should so what about Delta-8 and all the other cannabinoids that can be derived from hemp. As most observers know, hemp is considered legal as long as it does not contain more than 0.3% of Delta-9-THC. Yet the same high can be produced by Delta-8-THC, which can be extracted or synthesized from legal hemp.
This loophole has enabled the retail sale of high-inducing products containing Delta-8-THC in states where recreational cannabis is not yet legal. What’s more, these psychoactive edibles, gummies and tinctures are often sold in convenience stores, gas stations, and other locations with open access to all ages.
What to do about it? The Hemp Industries Association likes the law just as it is written, with any compound derived from hemp other than Delta-9 not being subject to control. On the other hand, there’s the U. S. Hemp Roundtable industry advocacy group that would welcome new regulations on Delta-8, as their position is that lawmakers did not expect there would be any hemp products that could get people high when the Farm Bill was passed.
In the meantime, states have taken the matter into their own hands. In July, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture banned products containing Delta-8, prompting a lawsuit from the Kentucky Hemp Association. Michigan recently passed legislation to make Delta-8 regulated by the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency effective in October. And Oregon recently enacted legislation that provides new regulations for its hemp industry, addressing the issue of psychoactive and non-intoxicating products being sold side by side at retailers.
Connecticut recently passed recreational cannabis legislation, and in doing so included a provision that only dispensaries with cannabis licenses can sell products containing THC compounds derived from hemp. This led to normal retailers having to quickly get rid of their stocks of now-illegal products containing Delta-8-THC. And until the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration decides to issue formal guidance, it’s likely other states will continue to take the reins over this issue.