The topic of delta-8 THC, which has a milder effect than delta-9 THC (the psychoactive compound found in cannabis) has caused quite a rift between the cannabis industry and various governments – both state and federal. Texas legislation has stirred up confusion over the years following Texas House Bill 1325 in 2019. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the law, allowing cultivators to grow hemp containing less than 0.3% delta-9 THC, the federal standard for qualifying cannabis as hemp. However, there was no mention of delta-8 THC.
Last month, The Department Of State Health Services (DSHS) addressed the concern surrounding the grey area in H.B. 1325. While cannabis companies ramped up production significantly as demand grew, the DSHS struck down on the sale of delta-8 THC, labeling it a Schedule I substance.
“Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 443 (HSC 443), established by House Bill 1325 (86th Legislature), allows Consumable Hemp Products in Texas that do not exceed 0.3% Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). All other forms of THC, including Delta-8 in any concentration and Delta-9 exceeding 0.3%, are considered Schedule I controlled substances,” the DSHS website reads.
The ruling didn’t last long, though. The cannabis industry has fought so long for legalization that dispensaries and advocates weren’t going to stand down from appealing the ruling. State District Judge Jan Soifer ultimately put a temporary block on the injunction on November 8th to prevent it from turning into a felony offense. Judge Jan Soifer determined that the DSHS didn’t follow the requirements for rulemaking in the state of Texas, per The Texas Tribune.
The state will try to overturn the ruling because the DSHS provided a good heads up on the status of delta-8 through the Texas Register – a public hearing where a rep for the DSHS gave a legislative testimony in May about the pending legality of delta-8.
It’s a win for both CBD dispensaries and the cannabis industry at large in Texas. Delta-8 was commonly found in CBD and hemp shops across the state following the farm bill and H.B. 1325 that legalized the production of cannabis. According to the Addiction Center, the sales of delta-8 THC products spiked by 144% between April 2020 and April 2021.
Before Judge Jan Soifer’s injunction, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency suggested that the delta-8 isn’t illegal. In June, a DEA liaison Sean Mitchell spoke to a group of cannabis growers and hemp operators in Florida. He explained that “the only thing (in hemp) that is a controlled substance is delta-9 THC greater than 0.3% on a dry-weight basis.” Terrence Boos, head of DEA’s Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, echoed this sentiment when he told the Alabama Board of Pharmacy that THC “synthetically produced from non–cannabis materials” is controlled.
The demand for delta-8 THC has grown significantly in hemp shops, CBD shops, and storefronts where smoking accessories are available. However, the grey area surrounding its legality on a federal basis prompted the FDA and the CDC to issue warnings on the potential risks associated with delta-8 THC, which they’ve described as being marketed as “diet weed.” They said the potential risks remain a concern since the compound hasn’t been researched in-depth – something made more difficult than it has to be since cannabis is still federally illegal, blocking it from drug research eligibility in many cases.
“Delta-8 THC products may also have the potential to be confused with hemp or CBD products that are not intoxicating. Consumers who use these products may therefore experience unexpected or increased THC intoxication,” it reads on the CDC website. “Because testing methods for products like synthetically derived delta-8 THC are still being developed, delta-8 THC products may not be tested systematically for contaminants such as heavy metals, solvents, or pesticides that may have adverse health effects.”