Why is Delta 8 THC Legal?

by Kat Austin March 29, 2021 4 min read

Why is Delta 8 THC Legal? - Vida Optima™

Delta-8-THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that’s being sold in stores across the country, even in areas where Delta-9-THC is illegal.

Why is Delta-8-THC legal? And will it remain legal?

Is it actually legalized or is it exploiting some sort of legal loophole?

Here’s what you need to know:

Table of Contents
U.S. Hemp Laws and Delta-8-THC
Delta-8-THC Isn’t Really a “Synthetic Cannabinoid”
Delta-8-THC is Legal, For Now
Buying Delta-8-THC Online

Key Takeaways

  • Delta-8-THC is legal when it is derived from hemp, but it isn’t always available in the concentrations needed for extraction.
  • Manufacturers have identified various ways to convert legal CBD to Delta-8-THC, making Delta-8 easier to source.
  • Laws still vary by state, and Delta-8-THC isn’t necessarily legal in every area.

U.S. Hemp Laws and Delta-8-THC

In 2018, the U.S. Farm Bill was updated to officially legalize hemp and its derivatives, something that had been in the works since hemp pilot programs were launched in 2014. Most of the immediate attention went to CBD, the most abundant cannabinoid found in legal hemp material, which boasts an array of therapeutic benefits.

A selection of hemp leaf material and hemp seeds, the legal material used to extract CBD for Delta-8-THC production.

Soon after, though, manufacturers caught wind of the fact that other hemp-derived cannabinoids, including Delta-8-THC, were legal too.

In fact, a clause in Section 12619b of the 2018 Farm Bill specifically addresses tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp. The wording clearly suggests that all tetrahydrocannabinols that are derived from industrial hemp which contains less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC are specifically exempt from scheduling within the Controlled Substances Act, rendering them legal by federal law.

Of course, naturally occurring Delta-8-THC is only found in low concentrations in hemp material, usually in quantities less than 1%. That means Delta-8 couldn’t effectively be sourced through any simple extraction method like CBD. Instead, manufacturers got crafty and made use of a conversion method called “isomerization” that’s been around since the early 2000’s.

Let us explain:

Delta-8-THC is a natural isomer of CBD. That means that the molecules contain all of the same atoms, just in a different arrangement. Isomerization is the process of rearranging a molecule to create a different molecule, or, in this case, rearranging CBD to create Delta-8-THC.

This process of “synthesizing” Delta-8-THC came under fire when the DEA released their Interim Final Rule regarding the new hemp laws. This rule states that all synthetically derived cannabinoids are illegal, regardless of classification or source.

Many people initially interpreted this as the DEA’s signal that Delta-8-THC was illegal, but that’s not exactly the case.

Delta-8-THC Isn’t Really a “Synthetic Cannabinoid”

It’s the opinion of many reputable law firms that Delta-8-THC doesn’t meet the DEA’s definition for a “synthetic cannabinoid.”

To understand what a synthetic cannabinoid actually is, we’ll look at a popular synthetic cannabinoid that was once sold as a common street drug: K2 (also called “spice.”)

A Delta-8-THC tincture, one of the various product types that can be made with legal Delta-8 material.
K2 is a completely man-made substance that is not derived from natural cannabis material at all. It is often sprayed on various plant materials to give the appearance of cannabis, but it actually contains no organic material--just a series of chemicals meant to imitate cannabis-derived cannabinoids.

It still interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a similar manner to THC, albeit more intensely. In fact, K2 is considered a Controlled Substance in the United States and it is known to have caused various dangerous reactions and overdoses.

On the other hand, Delta-8-THC is derived from real hemp material, usually from safe, naturally-derived CBD. Plus, Delta-8-THC is a real cannabinoid that is naturally occurring in the cannabis plant, much unlike other synthetic cannabinoids that can’t be found in any amounts in any organic material.

The process of creating Delta-8-THC simply requires another cannabinoid’s molecular structure to be rearranged. It’s not actually synthesized from scratch like other designer drugs, and it’s not new, rare, or otherwise unknown to the cannabinoid research community. In fact, Delta-8-THC was discovered as early as the 1940’s around the same time that Delta-9-THC and CBD were discovered.

Delta-8-THC Is Legal, For Now

If you take another look at the DEA’s Interim Final Rule on hemp, you’ll see that its preceded with the following statement:

“This interim final rule merely conforms DEA’s regulations to the statutory amendments to the CSA that have already taken effect, and it does not add additional requirements to the regulations.”

In other words, the only purpose of these new rules is to help align the Controlled Substances Act with the rules that were already carved out by the 2018 Farm Bill.

In other words, Delta-8-THC derived from hemp material is totally legal, and it has been since the hemp laws were updated in 2018. Of course, many experts suggest that the federal government didn’t intentionally create a legal avenue to psychoactive cannabinoids. Delta-8-THC laws could change at any given time, but it likely won’t happen without any indication.

For now, Delta-8 is legal by federal law, but it’s legal status still varies by state. To learn more about Delta-8 state laws, read “Where is Delta-8-THC Legal?

Buying Delta-8-THC Online

Even in areas where THC is legalized, it can’t always be purchased online or shipped through the mail. Luckily, Delta-8’s federal legal status makes it easier to obtain from various parts of the country.

You can actually order Delta-8-THC products online and have them shipped right to your door. For many, even in states where THC is legal, this makes Delta-8-THC much more accessible than traditional THC products.

Check out our Delta-8-THC collection if you’re interested in experiencing Delta-8-THC’s effects for yourself. All Vida Optima products are 100% Farm Bill compliant and legal with the quality and lab tests you need to put your mind at ease.

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