Delta 8 is legal, but for how long? Some call for regulation as businesses exploit loophole in marijuana law

North Carolina news

(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Getting high off hemp. There’s a popular new strain that gets you high like marijuana, and it’s totally legal due to a loophole in the federal farm bill. 

However, many are wondering if Delta 8 is here to stay.

When the farm bill passed in 2018, it came with certain restrictions on hemp. All products made from hemp may not contain more than .3% THC, the thing that gets you high.

But some farmers have figured out a way to get around that and at least one organization is working to stop the sales for now.

Delta 8 is known by some in the industry as marijuana lite.

“Delta 8 is right in the middle of regular THC and CBD,” said Matt Houser, owner of Green Life Remedies. “The reason I say that is because they are saying it’s about 2/3 of the potency of regulate Delta 9 THC.”

Currently, Delta 9 cannabis is illegal in North and South Carolina. However, in 2018 the Federal Farm Bill was signed into law by then President Donald Trump. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable helped shape the legislation and knew many in Congress were not in favor of legalizing marijuana across the nation.

“But they were willing to legalize hemp,” adds Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the US Hemp Roundtable, which is a coalition of businesses promoting safe hemp products. “And because we made it clear to them that hemp was not intoxicating.”

That argument is now going up in smoke with Delta 8 on the market. It started a few months before the COVID pandemic.

“Everybody I know has heard about it and either tried it or thought about trying it,” said Keegan Brennan.

Brennan tried Delta 8 during quarantine. He says his anxiety was high and CBD was not enough relief. Plus, they were selling Delta 8 at his local CBD stores.

“You can actually feel it when you do Delta 8 versus CBD,” added Brennan. “I just felt like CBD is more, you may get a head rush if you smoke it, like you would smoking anything else.”

“I had a 60-year-old guy in here just a few minutes ago,” said Houser. “I had a 40-year-old mom and her daughter come in a little bit ago. They are definitely trying to turn to cannabis for health and wellness for sure.”

More people are looking for the legal green, meaning a lot more green for stores like Green Life Remedies.

“We’ve double and tripled over the last two months as far as number of customers and sales generated,” says Houser.

Houser was leery about selling another alternative medicine because of the synthesized nature of how Delta 8 is manufactured.

Before he decided to sell it, he vetted the product, companies, and provides customers with a sheet showing how it is made.

“I feel it is very important to know and be transparent about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and providing that information to people.”

While people are rushing out to try Delta 8, there are plenty rolling up their sleeves to stop or at least regulate the sale of the product.

“We knew that products that were less than three percent weren’t going to get you high,” said Miller. “None of us at the time were aware of Delta 8. People have been using this loophole to try and sell intoxicating Delta 8 and claiming that it is hemp. That’s the kind of loophole we are trying to quash.”

The U.S. Roundtable is working with legislators in Raleigh to make the North Carolina Department of Agriculture the agency to regulate hemp products. It could mean full restriction, or the product only being sold in dispensaries.

“We just don’t want to see this proliferation of intoxicating products in gas stations, and grocery stores and other places where it is too often common,” said Miller.

The goal of the roundtable is to get something passed before the end of the session.

Which means those lighting up and selling Delta 8 will be watching.

“They are starting to in other states, starting to pull products,” says Houser. “So, I don’t know what the outcome is going to be my hope is that regulation steps in in some shape or form. That’s what the industry needs.”

“They’re always going to try to outlaw anything like this,” added Brennan. “Anything weed related, I’m sure they tried to do the same thing with just regular CBD.”

11 states in the nation have banned Delta 8, and more have pending legislation to regulated or make the drug a banned controlled substance.

You can get Delta 8 in various forms like edibles, and creams in North Carolina, for now.

There’s no word on when or if new hemp regulations could be announced.  

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