US hemp advocacy organizations publicly renounced a semi-legal form of less-potent THC added to some hemp products, saying it goes against the spirit of the law defining hemp as non-toxicating.
The Lexington, Ky.-based US Hemp Authority, a hemp certifying organization, announced last week its board voted to reject certification of any hemp product containing delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a quasi-legal version of THC with mildly intoxicating effects.
“We have always been about supporting and protecting the hemp industry and consumers,” Marielle Weintraub, the organization’s president, told The News Station. “We have never allowed anyone to market intoxicating cannabinoids. It’s not in the spirit of the Farm Bill [which legalized industrial hemp].”
Delta-8 THC is an analog of delta-9 THC, but slips through a legal loophole because it is not specifically defined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (or DEA) as the intoxicating agent in marijuana.
Trace amounts of delta-8 are found in hemp plants, but extractors use molecular isolation to extract and synthesize delta-8.
In the past year, CBD sellers have made a cottage industry adding delta-8 to everything from gummies to chocolate to tinctures and spraying the compound on smokable hemp flower.
The effects of delta-8 are reputedly mildly euphoric, not quite as strong as regular THC.
But any intoxicant is dangerous to the future of the hemp industry, advocates believe.
“We want to stay on the right side of the regulators,” Weintraub said. “I know people are hurting this year, but they shouldn’t risk the future of the industry to sell one or two products.”
The DEA announced last year that CBD had been removed from the federal controlled substances list.
The Food and Drug Administration is still deliberating on whether CBD can be considered a dietary supplement, like other natural products.
Having already approved CBD as a drug in anti-seizure medication, Epidiolex, the FDA is now conflicted about how CBD can at the same time be considered an inert additive in food or cosmetics.
Meanwhile CBD has become wildly popular and is now added to thousands of products from kombucha to pet treats to hand creams. States have developed their own laws permitting the use of CBD in foods and topicals.
Delta-8 is a “hot button issue that the FDA is going to immediately pick up on,” Weintraub said.
“We need to show that hemp companies want to follow the law and protect their consumers”Marielle Weintraub
When the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, hemp was defined as non-intoxicating as compared to marijuana which gets you high.
“There should be a bright line when it comes to intoxication,” Jonathan Miller, staff attorney for the Washington-based Hemp Round Table, told The News Station.
“The products being sold with delta-8 are above that line,” he added.
Scientists are still discovering cannabinoids and how they work, but any cannabis product sold with intoxicants should be regulated under THC adult-use and medical cannabis laws, not as hemp, Miller said.
“Hemp is defined as having less than .3% THC on a dry-weight basis,” Miller added. ”Delta-8 undermines our ability to advocate on behalf of hemp because it is intoxicating.”