After months of silence, a leading U.S. industry group for hemp professionals is setting the record straight: Delta-8 THC should be allowed.
The Hemp Industries Association on Friday encouraged state and federal authorities to be “guided by science” and adopt safety-first policies that allow people to continue legally purchasing the psychedelic compound.
The HIA, the country’s largest non-profit hemp trade association, cited a legal opinion written by Asheville, North Carolina-based Kight Law, which opined that Delta-8 THC, along with all other hemp-derived cannabinoids, were federally legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill.
“It’s clear the (Farm Bill), which removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Registry, directed that hemp be regulated as an agricultural product,” Jody McGinness, HIA’s Executive Director, said in a statement. “And the bill defined hemp to include its cannabinoids.”
Hemp-based Delta-8 THC has skyrocketed in popularity during the past year because of its similarity to Delta-9 THC, the main marijuana compound that gives users a psychedelic lift. Known as ‘marijuana-lite’ or ‘diet weed,’ Delta-8 provides slightly milder versions of the typical weed buzz – which can include feelings of energy, euphoria, relaxation, sleepiness and even pain relief.
Nearly all Delta-8 products are extracted synthetically from CBD, which comes from hemp. The compound has sparked controversy in recent months, though, because U.S. authorities perhaps unknowingly opened the door for Delta-8 when it passed the 2018 Farm Bill in December of that year.
The landmark bill allowed Americans to grow and sell hemp, as long as the hemp plants contained less than 0.3 percent Delta-9. The law never said anything about Delta-8, though.
The feds have remained relatively quiet on the issue, offering only that “synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances” last August. But at least 15 states and counting have outlawed the compound this year, contending it violates the Farm Bill’s intent to relax restrictions on hemp.
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington have all banned Delta-8. Pending bills in Michigan, Oklahoma and Oregon could also shut the door on the compound in those states.
McGinness said the HIA’s defense of Delta-8 aligns with the organization’s history of fighting for the legality of all hemp products. The trade association, founded in 1994 and comprised of mostly business owners and farmers in the hemp industry, is involved in a pair of lawsuits related to the DEA’s Interim Final Rule from last August.
The HIA contends that amending the 2018 Farm Bill threatens hemp extractors and manufacturers. McGinness said it advocates for public policy that allows CBD users to discover the hemp plant’s full medical potential.
“That’s about more than just one minor cannabinoid,” McGinness said. “We need a science-based approach to regulating hemp cannabinoids, which includes the 100-plus already identified and those yet to be discovered.”