Delta-8-THC, which is being made from hemp-derived compounds, is sweeping the nation thanks to a variety of potential benefits. The legality of the mildly psychoactive cannabinoid isn't so simple. Is Delta-8-THC legal in California? And if it is, where can you buy it?
Thanks to updates to the state's list of controlled substances, Delta-8 appears to be legal. You can get it online, but you need to ensure that it meets the legal requirements laid out by the state.
Here's what you need to know:
Table of Contents
Delta-8-THC and Federal Laws
California Delta-8-THC Laws
Is Delta-8 a Controlled Substance in California?
Delta-8-THC Possession Limits in California
Is Delta-9-THC Legal in California?
Where to Buy Delta-8 in California
Is Delta-8 Legal in All 50 States?
Delta 8's federal status is confusing at first glance. Technically, Delta-8-THC has been listed as a Schedule I substance alongside Delta-9-THC for well over a decade.
More recently, however, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was signed into law. Under this legislation, hemp containing less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC became legal, as did any cannabinoids, extracts, or isomers derived from the legal hemp material.
In fact, Section 12619b of the 2018 Hemp Farming Act specifically addresses tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp. By extension of this new law, Delta-8-THC was legal, or so it seemed.
Here's the catch:
Most of the legal Delta-8 products on the market are made by "synthesizing" CBD. While federal hemp legislation currently allows the production and sale of naturally derived cannabinoids, it specifically prohibits all synthesized cannabinoids.
So where does this put Delta-8-THC, considering it is both a naturally occurring cannabinoid and can be synthesized from legal CBD?
To understand, you need to take a look at the method used to turn CBD into Delta 8, which is vastly different from the complex process that is generally used to create synthetic cannabinoids.
The conversion process between CBD and Delta 8 relies on a transfer of isomers, a process called isomerization, between the two cannabinoids. This means that Delta-8-THC technically exists as a hemp "isomer," which is covered by hemp's legal definition according to the 2018 law.
In other words, Delta-8 is made from hemp and considered to be a naturally occurring part of the hemp plant.
The types of cannabinoids that the DEA typically carve out as “synthetic” are liquid agents that are frequently applied to plant material, like K2 and Spice. Legal forms of synthetic cannabinoids, such as Marinol, also exist as prescription pharmaceuticals. Unlike Delta-8-THC, these substances are purely synthetic and made in a lab without the use of plant material.
Of course, laws regarding cannabinoids are still subject to change as hemp regulations are ironed out by both the DEA and FDA. For now, Delta 8 maintains a federally legal status, but state laws still may pose limitations on Delta-8-THC access.
California is well known for being one of the first states to legalize cannabis both for recreational and medicinal use. However, the state's CBD laws are some of the stricter state laws in the nation, and figuring out where Delta-8-THC comes into play can be confusing.
Many people expected California to follow in the footsteps of neighboring states Nevada and Arizona to tighten regulations surrounding Delta-8. Luckily, California specifically updated their legislation to clarify hemp products as an exception to the Controlled Substances list. Because of this, Delta-8 is presumed to be openly legal in California, given that it is created from legal CBD.
Here are some highlights from the relevant text:
(a) For purposes of this division, the following terms have the following meanings:
(6) “Industrial hemp” or “Hemp” means an agricultural product, whether growing or not, that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds of the plant and all derivatives, extracts, the resin extracted from any part of the plant, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
(9) “THC” means delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.
CHAPTER 1. General Provisions and Definitions [11000 – 11033]
(a) Industrial hemp, as defined in Section 11018.5.
(b) The weight of any other ingredient combined with cannabis to prepare topical or oral administrations, food, drink, or other product.
(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 27, Sec. 115. (SB 94) Effective June 27, 2017. Note: This section was amended on Nov. 8, 2016, by initiative Prop. 64.)
11018.5. (a) “Industrial hemp” means a crop that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. having no more than three-tenths of 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops, whether growing or not; the seeds of the plant; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin produced therefrom.
(b) Industrial hemp shall not be subject to the provisions of this division or of Division 10 (commencing with Section 26000) of the Business and Professions Code, but instead shall be regulated by the Department of Food and Agriculture in accordance with the provisions of Division 24 (commencing with Section 81000) of the Food and Agricultural Code, inclusive.
(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 986, Sec. 8. (SB 1409) Effective January 1, 2019. Note: This section was amended on Nov. 8, 2016, by initiative Prop. 64.)
Delta-8 is not listed as a controlled substance in California. In fact, the state’s legislation specifically removes hemp-derived products from it’s list of Controlled Substances, meaning that there are no repercussions for possession of legal Delta-8THC products.
There are no Delta-8-THC limits defined by California legislation. Similarly, there are no possession limits placed on hemp products in general. Possession limits only apply to Delta-9-THC cannabis products, specifically those purchased at state licensed dispensaries.
California was the very first U.S. state to legalize cannabis for medical use via Proposition 215, which passed in 1996. In 2016 the state finally passed Proposition 64 to officially legalize cannabis for recreational use for consumers over the age of 21. Therefore, Delta-9-THC is completely legal in California for adult use.
California state laws are hazy when it comes to where and how hemp products can be sold. Still, you likely will find hemp-derived Delta-8 products in stores across the state.
It’s advisable to proceed with caution when choosing a Delta-8 distributor. While you can likely find various hemp products in local stores, there may be benefits to buying Delta-8 online. One reason is that you can buy directly from a brand or manufacturer, instead of purchasing through a third-party vendor that may not fully understand Delta-8 effects and uses or the laws surrounding Delta-8 products.
At Bloom Society, our Delta-8-THC products comply with all parameters of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. We can also help answer questions about Delta-8 before you buy, or you can read our “What is Delta-8-THC?” guide to learn everything you need to know.
Delta-8-THC is currently federally legal under the context of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, but each state has the right to determine their own stance on tetrahydrocannabinols derived from hemp. Delta-8-THC seems to be legal in California according to state law, but you should read more about Delta-8 laws by state to determine the legality in other areas.
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