What’s All the Fuss About Delta-8 and Other Alt Cannabinoids?

Delta-8 and Other

A recently released study suggesting that interest in alternative cannabinoids, like delta-8, is higher in prohibitionist states has reopened the discussion on delta-8. If you are not familiar with the alternative cannabinoid, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Needless to say that it is no small matter.

Delta-8 is both a natural cannabinoid and an isomer of delta-9 THC, the form of THC that is still illegal under federal law. Delta-9 is also the cannabinoid in marijuana that produces its high. All the fuss over delta-8 is tied to the fact that it also has psychoactive effects. But depending on its source, it may be legal under federal law.

Legality is the question. If we follow the 2018 Farm Bill – which legalized hemp nationwide – to the letter, certain types of delta-8 should be fully legal. But if we follow the DEA’s stand on the matter, it is still illegal.

The Basics of Delta-8

Delta-8 is one of more than a hundred cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis plants. It is also a form of THC and a delta-9 isomer. Being an isomer means that delta-8’s molecular content is identical to delta-9’s. The difference between the two is in how the molecules are arranged.

Delta-8’s arrangement is different enough that it interacts with a human endocannabinoid system slightly differently. It still has a psychoactive effect on the brain. However, users describe the high it produces as being different. It is also less intense than the high produced by delta-9.

The legality issues surrounding delta-8 go back to sourcing. This is where it helps to know how delta-8 products are manufactured.

Synthesized From CBD

Medical cannabis products are found on the shelves at Beehive Farmacy dispensary in Salt Lake City, UT are made with THC extracted from cannabis plants. Manufacturers could extract delta-8 from plant material as well. Some of them do. However, most do not simply because a typical plant does not produce enough delta-8 to make extraction worthwhile.

So, where does delta-8 come from? The experts at Beehive Farmacy say that most processors synthesize delta-8 from CBD. And as you may already know, CBD is federally legal nationwide. It was made legal by the 2018 Farm Bill. This creates a conundrum where delta-8 is concerned.

As a form of THC, the DEA seems well within its legal authority to deem naturally occurring delta-8 illegal. But delta-8 derived from CBD is not so straightforward. CBD products are already legal. Isn’t CBD-derived delta-8 also a CBD product? That is the question.

The States Vary

Delta-8’s legal status at the state level is up in the air. The states vary in terms of their delta-8 policies. Some don’t allow it at all, others allow it with proper testing and labeling, and other states allow retailers to sell delta-8 indiscriminately. It is yet another confusing aspect of the state-legal marijuana industry.

Washington could do the rest of the country a big favor by deciding what it wants to do with marijuana once and for all. If federal lawmakers are determined to keep marijuana on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, then federal law enforcement must go back to the practice of investigating and prosecuting marijuana crimes – that includes going after states that have decriminalized marijuana in any form.

On the other hand, Washington could decide to reschedule or legalize marijuana. If that is their decision, they should just get to it and be done with it. Full legalization would automatically eliminate the confusion. Then it would be up to the states to issue their own regulations in light of federal law.

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