The toughest job in cannabis right now might be keeping track of fast-moving laws surrounding a THC isomer few had heard of just two years ago.
Delta-8 THC’s effects might be milder than those of the better-known delta-9 variety. But the isomer has triggered a potent stew of confusing laws and regulations that are giving even seasoned cannabis attorneys headaches.
“We’ve seen a lot of states starting to crack down on delta-8. And we’re encouraged by those states that follow our positioning, which is the two pathways: one for intoxicating, one for nonintoxicating,” said Jonathan Miller, a U.S. Hemp Roundtable attorney who helped draft the hemp provisions of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill.
He noted that Michigan recently adopted such a model, and some states are following that lead. “What Michigan has done is divided up intoxicating cannabis … and intoxicating products will be sold through their adult-use channel,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, some states have outright banned hemp-derived delta-8, including Colorado and New York.
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And if that’s not confusing enough, legal interpretations about cannabinoids made or altered in labs can vary by county and city.
Some delta-8 THC retailers report having a local police officer visit and say the products are legal, only to have a different officer from the same department stop by the next day and say they’re not.
Meanwhile, some of the markets most friendly to delta-9 THC are the most averse to THC being modified in a lab.
Potential changes ahead
The situation is likely to worsen this spring, as state lawmakers set to work. That’s because headline-grabbing dangers to children (real or imagined) are like catnip for ambitious politicians looking for attention.
Against this backdrop, MJBizMagazine presents this map of the legal landscape in the United States. We combed through mountains of regulations and court rulings to determine how each state has approached delta-8 THC.
Take it with a big grain of salt: Even in a state with no mention of delta-8 THC on the books, a health or law enforcement official could decide that controlled substance laws cover the hemp-derived cannabinoid tomorrow.
Chart your own path
Finally, there’s a consideration that even the smartest cannabis lawyer can’t help settle, and that is the personal risk tolerance of anyone making or selling delta-8 THC—or anything like it.
Instead of asking if delta-8 THC is legal in a certain state, a better question might be whether you’re prepared to navigate a legal thicket that makes the traditional marijuana business look easy.
Omar Sacirbey contributed to this report.