Delta – 8 THC and the Government’s Marijuana Plans Go “Up in Smoke”

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Is cannabis legal in Virginia? Most followers of this blog are aware of the recent legislative efforts in Virginia to decriminalize and then legalize the possession of intoxicating marijuana by adults. Most followers of this blog believe that Virginia is presently in a twilight world where recreational possession of intoxicating marijuana is legal while the sale of such marijuana is illegal. Most followers of this blog are wrong.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production and sale of hemp based products so long as those products contained almost no delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound in THC that (usually) gets people high.  Unfortunately for the federal legislation there is no prohibition on delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol. Delta-8 as it’s called has a mild intoxicating effect. The apparent assumption in the 2018 Farm Bill was that Delta-8 was not a problem in the quantities found in non-intoxicating hemp products. Then along came the free market. Legal hemp products are being used to extract Delta-8 in quantities and potencies easily sufficient to intoxicate a person consuming the substance. Intoxicating marijuana products based on Delta-8 are publicly and legally on sale across the country including in Virginia. So, the sale of intoxicating marijuana products is currently legal in Virginia.

Does Delta-8 THC get you high? In a word, yes. While Delta-8 THC isn’t as strong as Delta-9 THC, it will definitely get you high. But don’t take my word for it. Dante Jordan is a writer for Leafly, a marijuana based website. Mr. Jordan lives in Oregon where Delta-9 based marijuana products are legally sold for recreational use. It seems that Mr. Jordan freely partakes in Oregon’s legal marijuana products. In his own words, “The first thing to know before discussing the delta-8 experience is my tolerance. I chain-smoke joints all day, every day, with dabs tossed in the mix here and there.” Having established his bona fides as a marijuana user Jordan ventured to a local pot store to buy some Delta-8 gummies. For the uninitiated, gummies are small candy-like food that are often used as delivery vehicles for Delta-9 and Delta-8 THC.  You eat the gummies and you are supposed to get high. Did the Delta-8 gummies get experienced pot used Dante Jordan high? Again, in his own words, “Truthfully, I expected to feel absolutely nothing when I ate those two gummies. I was ready to hate. But the Smokiez delta-8 gummies experience had me blasting music, dancing around my Airbnb, and punching out sentences that writer’s block had been stifling for over a month.” Read the article here.

Is Delta-8 really legal? In a word, yes  Well, it’s legal in most states  This map shows Delta-8’s legal status across the United States  Each state falls into one of three categories – Illegal/restricted, pending or unaddressed. The map provides some interesting data. First, Delta-8 is as legal as a milkshake in Virginia and all the surrounding states except Kentucky (where it is illegal). Second, the majority of the states which have made Delta-8 illegal are states where Delta-9 is legal for recreational use. One can guess that people who went through the cost and effort to set up legal dispensaries were quick to visit their legislators in an effort to block out a low cost competitor. In turn, legislators who like the Delta-9 taxes that come from legal marijuana products didn’t want lightly taxed Delta-8 products cutting into their funds.

Can you legally buy intoxicating Delta-8 products in Virginia? Again, yes. This time you will have to take my word for it. I have personally been to two CBD shops in Virginia where Delta-8 products are openly on sale. I’ll refrain from providing more details since I have reservations about the safety of Delta-8 products. Anybody who wants to try Delta-8 will have to do their own research.

Is Delta-8 THC safe? Nobody knows. Refining intoxicating Delta-8 based products from legal hemp products is a very new development in the marijuana business. While people have been getting stoned on Delta-9 based THC for a very long time, the same cannot be said for Delta-8. The two compounds are very similar chemically. But water and hydrogen peroxide are both made from hydrogen and oxygen atoms and I’m pretty sure that drinking hydrogen peroxide would be a bad idea. There are no conclusive studies addressing the consumption of Delta-8 THC products by humans  Beyond that, I have been unable to find any material regarding the regulations pertaining to the manufacture of Delta-8 based products. I suspect the Delta-8 products are regulated more like hemp than food.

What should Virginia do? Ban Delta-8 based THC products at least until the Delta-9 laws, rules and regulations are rolled out. Delta-8 products are intoxicating. I’m sure that if you consume enough Delta-8 you will get very high. There are no special taxes associated with Delta-8 sales. No extra money (beyond the normal sales tax) going to the government. There are no reliable studies of the effects of Delta-8 on human health. I have no idea whether the shops in Virginia selling Delta-8 products would require proof of adulthood before making a sale. There are just too many open questions. I support the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use. I also support extra taxation of marijuana products and strict regulations on the sale of those products — especially in regard to prohibiting the sale to minors. None of those rules appear to be in effect regarding Delta-8.

By Don Rippert