How Legal is Delta 8 THC?
The legal status of the cannabis plant and cannabis products can be difficult to understand. After all, there are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and some, like CBD, can be sold and used in any state in the nation. Other cannabinoids, like Delta-9 THC, which gives cannabis the psychoactive effects it’s known for, are only legal for sale or use in certain states and markets.
And that’s just the legal status of two cannabinoids. Given the sheer amount of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, it can be hard to figure out which are legal and which aren’t in your state.
This brings us to the legal status of Delta-8 THC, which is a lesser-known cannabinoid, but one we are particularly fond of.
If you’re unfamiliar with Delta-8, here’s the gist: This cannabinoid is like a cousin to Delta-9 THC in that it offers some psychoactive effects to users, but it promotes a full-spectrum entourage effect. It’s more of a body hug than a head high — and it offers tons of promising medical benefits without the overwhelming “high” that comes with Delta-9.
According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta-8 THC may offer users: “… antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties. [Delta-8-THC] binds to the cannabinoid G-protein coupled receptor CB1, located in the central nervous system…This agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than [delta-9-THC], the primary form of THC found in cannabis.”
The popularity of Delta-8 has grown in recent years, and products containing this cannabinoid have started popping up online and in markets across the nation. But is the sale of Delta-8 THC products legal?
Legal issues with buying Delta-8 THC products online and elsewhere
Well, the answer to that question is complicated. You may have seen a handful of Delta-8 products available for purchase and shipping online, but that doesn’t mean these products are legal to possess or buy in your state — or that it’s a good idea to use them.
Part of the issue is that while Delta-8 is legal wherever medical and recreational cannabis is legal, it’s not legal across the board like CBD is. Here’s the deal.
Before the 2018 Farm Bill, Delta-8 was completely federally illegal. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and specifically made all of the derivatives, isomers, and cannabinoids derived from hemp open to legal interpretation — provided the final product contained less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.
What that means in layman’s terms is this: if you grow the cannabinoids in hemp, then the cannabinoids other than Delta-9 THC that are derived or synthesized from it — including Delta-8 THC, which is an isomer of CBD — are technically federally legal, but it’s still a bit of a gray area — especially considering that federally legal does not mean state legal.
Some states define marijuana as Delta-9 THC, or have a definition that excludes industrial hemp. In those states, Delta-8 that is derived from hemp is legal under state law, but it is illegal in places like Alabama, which has a different definition of marijuana. Delta-8 is also legal to buy and sell in states with legal recreational and medical cannabis markets, like Colorado or California.
But even if Delta-8 products are technically legal in your state, they could still be risky to buy off the internet. You need to be able to verify that what you’re buying is truly Delta-8. If you can’t, it could be dangerous to ingest it. If you want to use Delta-8, it’s important to buy the products from a reputable dispensary in states where it’s legal and regulated.
If you live in a state without legal cannabis, you may also risk legal issues if the products you buy online contain high levels of Delta-9 — even if you weren’t aware of the issue beforehand. It’s also not legal to mail products containing Delta-9 THC through USPS, so if your Delta-8 product contains more than the allowed amount of 0.3% Delta-9 THC, it could be a federal crime to ship it.
But even if you are in a state with legal marijuana, you should still look for Delta-8 products that offer independent lab testing and transparent results. Choose companies that are forthcoming with where their hemp or marijuana is sourced from and how the products are made.
Delta-8 can be a helpful health supplement, but you’ll only get the full benefit of this cannabinoid if you are using reputable products from companies that are focused on putting out the highest-quality, dispensary grade products they can deliver. Everything else is just a roll of the dice.