At Matt Tallarico’s Your CBD Store in Kingston, NY his customers seek solutions for pain, anxiety, and sleeplessness. One of his biggest-selling remedies is delta-8.
Derived from hemp, delta-8 THC is considered a more gentle version of delta-9 THC. It has been flying off the shelves at smoke shops. Traditional marijuana is scientifically designated as containing delta-9 THC, and that is the component known to gives users the psychoactive “high” associated with the plant.
Unlike most products in the hemp category, delta-8 has a psychoactive quality.
Products containing the delta-8 have become popular in recent years. A lack of regulation and clear federal standing have caused some states to ban it. It’s unclear if New York’s recently revised regulations ban all delta-8 products.
The two ways of producing delta-8 — naturally and synthetically — result in different products with different impacts on the body. Instead of collecting it naturally, some manufacturers start with CBD and add chemicals to change it to delta-8.
Through bioaccumulation, cannabis plants absorb the heavy metals and pesticides in the surrounding soil (as well as any synthetic chemicals added later). If these substances aren’t fully extracted consumers are at risk of ingesting dangerous chemicals.
Unlike the highly regulated legal cannabis industry, delta-8 has no system to ensure the product is safe. This leaves consumers in a dangerous limbo.
But there is still a disconnect between what industry leaders are calling for and what consumers are begging for—a rift some may see as the difference between what consumers want and what’s good for them.
Matt Tallarico, the owner of Your CBD Store in Kingston, whose shop gets a sizable portion of its income from delta-8 sales, acknowledges the complexity of the issue. While he understands the ban, he sees the worry in his customers who have found relief using delta-8.
“It will affect us—that’s our top seller and we will certainly lose revenue from it as a small business,” Tallarico says. “We feel that very much. But I kind of understand many different perspectives here.”
Still, the revised regulations don’t firmly answer every question or close every loophole. The biggest unanswered question — whether it bans all delta-8, or just synthetic delta-8 — leaves an uncertain future for consumers and sellers alike.