The Delta-8 Controversy: What Is It and Why We're Concerned

09 November, 2022
The Delta-8 Controversy: What Is It and Why We're Concerned

Welcome class! In a recent lesson, we explored the many different types of THC, learning about THCA, THCV, Delta-9, and Delta-8. While each kind offers a unique set of benefits for those who consume, one of them is involved in a little controversy. 

Delta-8 THC has some appealing traits for sure, but beyond its innocent appearance lurks a problematic practice that might be cause for concern. This is what you need to know about the Delta-8 controversy.


Not Quite Delta-9, and Not Quite Legal

Delta-8 THC has very much been a hot item within the cannabis community as of late. Throughout the last year, products containing this cannabinoid have been flying off of shelves. Why is that? 

Chemically, the two are nearly identical, but the way delta-8 hits is different enough that it has found itself in a legal gray area. This type of THC is known to produce a milder buzz than delta-9 — one that is often classified as a sensation more in the body than in the mind. Those who consume delta-8 tend to feel a greater boost of energy than what they'd get from the more common form of THC. Lots of vendors will say that because the psychotropic effects are not as strong, these products are completely legal, though that's not entirely true. 

In many states, it is perfectly legal to consume delta-8 THC, but some — even those where recreational consumption is legal — have outlawed this cannabinoid. Regardless, there are vendors who will try to tell customers otherwise, arguing that it's protected under the 2018 farm bill. While this legislation does free hemp with under .3% THC from the clutches of the Controlled Substances Act, delta-8 is nowhere to be found in that bill. Instead, delta-9 is the target, creating a loophole in which some businesses are taking advantage.

The goal of the bill was to legalize hemp under the condition that it is free of psychotropic effects. The fact that delta-8 THC does alter your state of mind, even to a lesser extent, means it is in conflict with lawmakers' intentions. As they're beginning to discover this cannabinoid, they are eager to update the law accordingly.

Meanwhile, some shops are facing consequences. One store in Clinton, South Carolina saw its entire inventory of delta-8 products fall into police custody because the THC content exceeded the .3% limit. Examples like this are causing some state lawmakers to take aggressive measures against the cannabinoid. 

On a federal level, things get even tighter. The Drug Enforcement Agency went on to proclaim that "[a]ll synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances." Because the cannabinoid in question rarely occurs in a natural state, most products contain lab-generate delta-8. Accordingly, this type of THC has been categorized as a "Controlled Substance," which is giving law officials more leeway to target such products.

The cannabis industry already has a precarious relationship with lawmakers. A proliferation of products that are legally dubious could strain that relationship even further, and legitimate dispensaries are growing concerned.


A Surplus of Unregulated Products

Aside from legal concerns, there's another major problem with products containing delta-8 THC: they have not received approval from the FDA, nor have they even been tested. This makes things extra dicey as you won't know what you're putting in your body when consuming delta-8 products.

Since delta-8 is not federally legal, there's no framework for regulation. Products with this cannabinoid can be sold without any cautionary labels, and there's no oversight in the production process. Not only can this pose a health risk to consumers, but it could pose a problem to the businesses that are liable for the goods on their shelves. 

In the meantime, these products are in high demand. Often sold in the form of edibles, people can find delta-8 on the shelves of unauthorized vendors, like gas stations and bodegas. Even so, there are some purveyors out there trying to sell delta-8 products legitimately by observing the legal THC limits. Unfortunately, the influx of questionable goods could very well put the entire operation in jeopardy. 

Another thing that you must always take into consideration is that while delta-8 may be milder than delta-9, it won't sneak past a drug test unnoticed. So if you're looking for work, don't let your guard down by seeking delta-8 as an alternative — it could cost you a job opportunity.

Delta-8 THC definitely has its place, but until our favorite plant is fully legalized on a federal level, it's going to remain a questionable subject.