How is Delta 8 THC — an analog of Delta 9 THC — legal while the marijuana plant still remains in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports there are currently at least 144 known cannabinoids that have been isolated from the cannabis plant and synthesized. The two most popular cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The latter is known for inducing the signature cannabis high attributed to marijuana consumption on top of its health benefits.
Recently, another cannabinoid from the family has started to tear through the mainstream media.
It’s not CBN, CBG, or CBC — it’s delta-8 THC, an analog of delta-9 THC.
Surprisingly, this cannabinoid is theoretically legal on a federal level due to specific loopholes in the law.
The Delta 8 THC space is also one of the fastest-growing segments in the cannabis industry.
How are delta 8 products made? Is their legal status here to stay, or will we see rapid shifts in federal policy with the recent statement of the DEA being triggered by smart entrepreneurs like Area 52?
You’ll learn everything from today’s article.
Is Delta 8 THC Legal in My State?
Delta 8 THC is legal on a federal level, but as with any federal law, states can accept the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill or place their own restrictions on the legality of delta 8 THC products.
Here’s what delta-8 THC laws look like in each state:
|Alabama||Legal||Alabama House Bill 2 removed an amendment banning delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC products.|
|Alaska||Illegal||All forms of THC are illegal in Alaska, including delta-8 THC, even though the state allows recreational cannabis.|
|Arizona||Regulated||Delta-8 THC is regulated the same way as recreational cannabis; you can buy it only from licensed dispensaries.|
|Arkansas||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Arkansas under HB 1640.|
|California||Regulated||Delta-8 THC is regulated and most in the same way as adult-use cannabis. Most online delta-8 vendors don’t ship there.|
|Colorado||Illegal||Colorado has banned converting any cannabinoids from hemp, making delta-8 THC illegal.|
|Connecticut||Regulated||Delta-8 THC is subject to the same regulations as recreational cannabis. You can purchase it only from licensed retailers.|
|Delaware||Illegal||Delta-8 THC is a Schedule I controlled substance under state law, along with other “tetrahydrocannabinols.”|
|Florida||Legal||Hemp-derived delta-8 THC is legal for now, but HB 679 could change it. The bill aims at creating new regulations that could effectively ban all delta-8 THC products.|
|Georgia||Legal||House Bill 213 legalized hemp-derived cannabinoids, including delta-8 THC.|
|Hawaii||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Hawaii, except for edibles and inhalable products.|
|Idaho||Illegal||Delta-8, as well as other forms of THC, is illegal in Idaho.|
|Illinois||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Illinois, and lawmakers are working on a framework that will require all cannabinoid products to be properly tested and labeled before being sold.|
|Indiana||Legal||Hemp-derived delta-8 THC is legal in Indiana; the only banned products include delta-8 hemp flower.|
|Iowa||Illegal||Delta-8 THC is illegal in Iowa, except for tinctures. Non-inhalable hemp products were legalized in 2020, but it’s not clear if delta-8 is included.|
|Kansas||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Kansas despite the attorney general’s attempts to raid delta-8 shops.|
|Kentucky||Legal||Senate Bill 170 legalized all hemp-derived cannabinoids, including delta-8 THC.|
|Louisiana||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal but limited. Inhalable products are banned, while the THC limit in delta-8 products is set at 8 milligrams.|
|Maine||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Maine; the state also allows cannabis for recreational use.|
|Maryland||Legal||Maryland accepts all hemp-derived products, including delta-8 THC.|
|Massachusetts||Legal||Similar to recreational weed, delta-8 THC is legal in Massachusetts.|
|Michigan||Regulated||Delta-8 THC is regulated in Michigan under House Bill 4517. You can purchase it only from licensed dispensaries.|
|Minnesota||Illegal||The state passed a bill in June that limits hemp-derived products to no more than 0.3% of any type of THC.|
|Mississippi||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal because it was removed from the state’s controlled substances act.|
|Missouri||Legal||All hemp-derived products, including delta-8 THC, are legal in Missouri.|
|Montana||Illegal||All forms of THC are controlled substances in Montana.|
|Nebraska||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Nebraska; the state follows the language of the 2018 Farm Bill.|
|Nevada||Illegal||Nevada passed SB49, which added delta-8 THC to the state’s definition of THC.|
|New Hampshire||Legal||Delta-8 THC counts as a hemp-derived product and is therefore legal in New Hampshire|
|New Jersey||Legal||New Jersey allows delta-8 THC products. It also has a legal recreational marijuana market.|
|New Mexico||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in New Mexico. Marijuana was also legalized for recreational use in 2021.|
|New York||Illegal||Delta-8 THC was banned in New York in 2021.|
|North Carolina||Legal||Delta-8 THC is considered a hemp-derived product in North Carolina.|
|North Dakota||Illegal||North Dakota passed bill 1045, changing the definition of THC to include delta-8 and other isomers.|
|Ohio||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Ohio. However, if it comes from marijuana, it must be purchased from a licensed medical dispensary.|
|Oklahoma||Legal||Delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC have been excluded from the definition of marijuana, which is illegal in Oklahoma.|
|Oregon||Illegal||Oregon has banned all ‘artificially derived cannabinoids,” including delta-8, delta-10, THC-O, and even CBN.|
|Pennsylvania||Legal||Pennsylvania allows delta-8 THC products from hemp, as long as they contain no more than 0.3% of delta-9 THC.|
|Rhode Island||Illegal||Rhode island has banned all types of THC, although the laws aren’t 100% clear.|
|South Carolina||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in South Carolina despite a few raids on delta-8 stores in the past.|
|South Dakota||Legal||South Dakota allows all hemp-derived products, including delta-8 THC.|
|Tennessee||Legal||Delta-8 THC remains legal in Tennessee despite several attempts to ban and regulate it.|
|Texas||Legal||Texas has tried to ban delta-8 THC several times but to no avail. Hemp-derived delta-8 THC products are legal.|
|Utah||Illegal||All isomers of THC are considered controlled substances in Utah.|
|Vermont||Illegal||Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets stated that “Vermont producers cannot manufacture the delta-8 THC cannabinoid from hemp.”|
|Virginia||Legal||Virginia allows delta-8 THC products to some extent. Food and drink products containing delta-8 THC were banned, but you can buy delta-8 tinctures, vapes, and flower.|
|Washington||Regulated||Delta-8 THC was banned from licensed marijuana dispensaries. However, the government’s ruling doesn’t specify if online vendors can ship their products to Washington.|
|West Virginia||Legal||West Virginia tried to ban delta-8 THC with Senate Bill 666 but didn’t succeed.|
|Wisconsin||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Wisconsin, just like all hemp derivatives.|
|Wyoming||Legal||Delta-8 THC is legal in Wyoming as long as it contains no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC.|
What Is Delta 8 THC?
When most people hear of THC, they associate it with the intoxicating cannabinoid that gets them high and has a wide range of therapeutic properties.
But did you know that THC can have many faces — one of them being delta 8 THC?
Delta 8 is one of the analogs of delta 9. The term “analog” means it has a very similar molecular structure, with minor differences in the arrangement of its atoms.
The cannabinoid is mildly intoxicating; it has half the potency of delta 9 THC, which is the main reason why some people call it “diet cannabis” or “cannabis light.”
Aside from that, delta-8 THC offers several therapeutic properties, including relief from nausea, anxiety, pain, and sleep disturbances.
Long story short, Delta 8 is another wellness product from cannabis that people choose to experiment with different cannabinoids.
The best thing about delta 8 THC is that it’s federally legal — at least from the sheer legislative standpoint.
We’ll get to that in a second, but let’s discuss the differences between delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC.
Read more: What is Delta 8 THC?
How Is Delta 8 THC Different from Delta 9 THC?
As mentioned, delta 8 THC is an analog of delta 9.
As such, it has a similar chemical structure, with a very subtle difference that may be insignificant for those who aren’t interested in chemistry.
Both cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, a vast neurochemical network that keeps the body in a state of balance (homeostasis). Delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC share a similar mechanism of action; in other words, they both engage with the CB1 receptors in the brain — the main reason both compounds can get the user high.
However, the main contrast is in their chemical bonds. Delta 8 THC has a double bond on the eight carbon chains, while delta 9 THC has the same double bond on the ninth carbon chain.
This, in turn, causes the aforementioned difference in their potency.
To experience the same high intensity as with delta 9 THC, you’d need to take twice as much delta 8.
Delta 8 THC is also picked by users who are sensitive to the psychoactive effects of THC. In higher doses, THC may elevate anxiety and cause paranoia, which is why some people choose to avoid high-THC cannabis products.
With delta 8, the incidence of these side effects is much lower.
Now back to the legal status… Is delta 8 THC legal?
Is Delta 8 THC Legal?
Cannabis websites and discussion forums are full of contradictory information on the legal status of delta 8 THC.
While Delta 9 THC is explicitly prohibited — it comes from marijuana, which has more than 0.3% of the compound — other cannabinoids may be exempt from the federal provisions.
Because the 2018 Farm Bill made a clear distinction between hemp and marijuana.
While both plants are similar in their genetic makeup, they come with different concentrations of delta-9 THC.
Marijuana is high in THC, whereas hemp only contains 0.3% or less. The 2018 Farm Bill states, "all hemp derivatives (cannabinoids, analogs, etc.) are completely legal in the United States as long as they do not contain more than 0.3% of THC.”
The best part about making delta 8 THC products?
They can be extracted from hemp.
To answer the yet unasked question: yes, extracting delta 8 THC directly from hemp is super cost-prohibitive due to the low concentrations of delta 9 in hemp.
But like we said, creative entrepreneurial souls have come up with methods that enable efficient delta 8 extraction — using less conventional methods than the pressurized CO2.
Before we get down to how delta 8 THC is made, let’s focus on how the DEA treats the cannabinoid. As with all new cannabis products, delta 8 extracts have already raised controversies among government officials.
What Is the DEA’s Stance on the Legality of Delta 8 THC?
The DEA includes delta 8 THC on its list of controlled substances (updated August 2020) under “tetrahydrocannabinol.”
However, section 12619(b) of the 2018 Farm Bill — its last provision — carved out “tetrahydrocannabinol in hemp.”
This includes any type of THC from hemp plants that contain 0.3% of THC or less. Hemp-derived products (including those containing delta 8 THC) are legal on a federal level, while marijuana remains illegal. Delta 9 is only legal in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
Although it’s unlikely that the USDA intended to create a loophole for people to get high legally, it’s a fact that delta 8 THC may have gone under the radar.
In their case against delta 8 THC, the DEA implies that “the [2018 Farm Bill] does not impact the control status of synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol (for Controlled Substance Code Number 7370) because the statutory definition of ‘hemp’ is limited to materials that are derived from the plant Cannabis sativa L. For synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol, the concentration of delta 9 THC is not a determining factor in whether the material is a controlled substance. All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol remains a schedule I controlled substance.”
Does it mean that the DEA has just burst the bubble of people hoping to experience a legal high?
Lawyers beg to disagree.
What Are Lawyers Saying?
The legal landscape for delta 8 THC products is contradictory at best.
However, lawyers believe the Farm Bill is on their side. According to people specializing in cannabis laws, delta 8 THC is federally legal as long as it is extracted from hemp.
The process manufacturers employ to obtain delta 8 from cannabis fits in the definition of “organic extractions.”
In order for the delta 8 THC to be extracted synthetically, a group of lab workers would need to create this compound in laboratory conditions using synthetic ingredients and specialized lab equipment.
Current extraction methods are anything but synthetic. Of course, they require several toxic chemicals to convert other cannabinoids to delta 8 THC, but
Below we shed more light on how delta 8 THC is made — and how it affects its legality.
Factors that Determine the Legal Status of Delta 8 THC
All cannabinoids start from CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). The enzymes in the cannabis plant use CBGA to synthesize CBD, THC, CBC, CBDV, and more.
However, no enzymes could allow cannabis to convert CBG directly into delta 8 THC.
Delta 8 is the byproduct of delta 9 THC’s degradation. Most of the delta-9 THC converts into CBN (cannabinol), which is approximately 10% as potent as THC. A very small amount of delta 9 transforms into delta 8.
Even marijuana strains that are high in THC have about 1% or less delta 8 THC by weight.
Manufacturers looking to yield high quantities of delta-8 THC can extract it using two methods:
- Convert delta 9 THC into Delta 8 THC – this is the most efficient method, but it’s only legal in states with legal recreational markets since it uses marijuana plants as the source.
- Convert CBD to Delta 9 THC and then to Delta 8 – it’s a more complicated method but legal on a federal level.
Extracting delta 8 THC using a conversion process from CBD requires solvents, reagents, and acids. Therefore it calls for knowledgeable lab technicians and high-tech equipment to ensure the bases are properly purged of any toxic chemicals. Otherwise, the final product can be dangerous for your health.
How to Make Sure Your Delta 8 Product Is Legal
- Purchase from reputable brands that can ensure proper certification (third-party lab reports) to prove their product’s purity and ensure the delta 9 THC content at 0.3% or below.
- Use hemp-derived delta 8 THC for a federally legal product.
- Order marijuana-derived delta 8 THC from cannabis dispensaries if you live in a state with a recreational marijuana market to ensure the highest quality.
- Watch out for scammy companies churning out low-quality extracts that contain higher than federally-approved amounts of delta 9 THC.
- Don’t buy delta 8 THC on the cheap; it’s not a “cheap” product, and nothing indicates it will change anytime soon.
How to Find a Trusted Delta 8 Vendor
The Delta 8 THC space is a new and booming market. Similar to the situation of the CBD industry, it lacks regulation because the FDA hasn’t yet investigated its efficacy and safety. This scenario creates opportunities for scammy companies to thrive in the growing market, luring unaware customers with low prices, legal highs, miracle cures, and whatnot.
The first checkpoint on your list should be third-party testing. Does the company run laboratory tests for every batch of its products? If yes, what do these tests cover? Do they only list the potency of delta 8 THC, or do they also look for common contaminants and potentially dangerous additives? Third-party testing should be as detailed as possible — and proven with an up-to-date Certificate of Analysis (COA).
Another factor to consider is the source of your delta 8 product. Marijuana-derived extracts are illegal on a federal level, but you're in the clear as long as your product comes from hemp. It’s important that the hemp is grown organically, in clean soil, and without pesticides or growth boosters. Such plants grow cannabinoid-rich buds and ensure higher delta 8 yields.
Last but not least, mind the company’s reputation. Suppose you are looking to buy Delta 8 products online. In that case, you have to consider those with lots of positive reviews on third-party websites (such as Area 52 or Finest Labs) as they are a better source of delta 8 THC than companies with no history or success record among customers. You might want to consider buying D8 products online rather than locally, as it gives you the advantage of intensively checking these details.
What Are the Benefits of Using Delta 8 THC?
Delta 8 THC offers similar health benefits to delta 9 THC but with a much lower incidence of the side effects like anxiety and paranoia.
There haven’t been many studies on the effects of delta 8, but what we know so far points us to the following benefits:
- Pain reduction
- Nausea relief
- Lowered inflammation
- Mood elevation
- Better stress response
- Reduced anxiety
- Appetite stimulation
As researchers understand how cannabinoids work within the body, we may soon expect a surge of studies regarding the health benefits and safety of delta 8 THC and the increase in the availability of d8 products such as edibles, tinctures, and vapes.
To summarize, delta 8 THC is federally legal as long as it is extracted naturally from hemp. Marijuana-derived delta 8 products can only be purchased in states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. The extraction method is another factor influencing the legality of D8. Products made using the natural conversion process from CBD are compliant with the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill.
That being said, the DEA continues to hold its negative stance toward the legal status of delta 8 THC. However, their argumentation is wrong on many levels, one being the distinction between synthetic and natural extractions. Synthetically derived delta 8 is nearly nonexistent, so for the time being, the majority of D8 products are legal.
So far, only 11 states have decided to ban the sale of delta 8 THC. You won’t buy it in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah.
If you want to ensure you’re buying a 100% legal product, check for third-party lab reports and always buy from reputable manufacturers who can deliver the standards we’ve discussed in this article.