If you are a cannabis user or a hemp business owner, you may have heard of delta-8 THCO and delta-9 THCO, two novel cannabinoids that have been gaining popularity in recent years. These compounds are derived from legal hemp but havepsychoactive effects similar to delta-9 THC, the main intoxicating ingredient in marijuana. However, unlike delta-9 THC, which is illegal under federal law, delta-8 THCO and delta-9 THCO were widely marketed as legalalternatives that could be sold online or in stores without any restrictions.
But what are these cannabinoids exactly? And why did the DEA ban them in February 2023? In this blog post, we will explaineverything you need to know about these compounds and their legal implications.
What are Delta-8 THCO and Delta-9 THCO?
Delta-8 THCO and delta-9 THCO are two cannabinoids that are derived from hemp by a chemical process called acetylation. This process involves adding an acetyl group to the THC molecule, which changes its structure and properties.
Delta-8 THCO and delta-9 THCO have similar effects to THC, such as euphoria, relaxation, pain relief and appetite stimulation. However, they also have some differences. For example, delta-8 THCO is less potent than THC and has less psychoactive effects. Delta-9 THCO is more potent than THC and has more psychoactive effects.
These cannabinoids were previously considered legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and its derivatives as long as they contain no more than 0.3% of THC. Many consumers used these products as an alternative to marijuana or CBD products.
What Is The 2018 Farm Bill?
The 2018 Farm Bill was a landmark legislation that changed the legal status of hemp and its derivatives in the United States. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that has low levels of THC and high levels of CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid with purported health benefits.
Before the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA, along with marijuana and other drugs with high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. This meant that growing, possessing, or selling hemp was illegal under federal law.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the CSA and defined it as any part of the cannabis plant that contains no more than 0.3% of THC on a dry weight basis. This includes seeds, stems, flowers, oils, extracts, and any other product derived from hemp. The bill also authorized states to regulate the production, transportation, and sale of hemp within their borders.
The 2018 Farm Bill opened up new opportunities for farmers, businesses, and consumers who wanted to benefit from hemp products. However, it also created some confusion and uncertainty about which hemp products were legal and which were not.
Why did the DEA ban Delta-8 THCO and Delta-9 THCO?
In February 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a letter stating that delta-8 THCO and delta-9 THCO are not hemp, but Schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This means they are illegal synthetic cannabinoids that do not naturally occur in hemp.
The DEA’s decision was based on its interpretation of the CSA and the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and its derivatives with up to 0.3% of delta-9 THC. The DEA argued that delta-8 THCO and delta-9 THCO are not naturally occurring in hemp but are synthetically produced by modifying other cannabinoids through chemical processes. Therefore, they do not qualify as hemp derivatives under the Farm Bill and are subject to the CSA’s provisions. The DEA also cited a lack of scientific evidence on the safety and efficacy of these substances.
What are the consequences of using or selling these cannabinoids?
The DEA’s ruling has significant implications for anyone who uses or sells these cannabinoids. This could affect many smoke shops and gas stations that sell these products across the country, as well as online retailers and delivery services that ship these products to customers. If you possess, distribute, manufacture or import these substances, you could face serious criminal charges at both federal and state levels. Depending on the quantity involved and other factors, you could face fines, imprisonment or both.
Even if you live in a state where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational purposes, you are not immune from federal prosecution. The CSA still applies to all forms of cannabis across the country and supersedes any state laws that conflict with it. Moreover, some states have already banned or regulated these cannabinoids before the DEA’s ruling.
Therefore, it is crucial that you stay informed about the legal status of these substances in your jurisdiction and avoid any activities that could put you at risk of violating the law.
Contact An Experienced Tennessee Marijuana Lawyer
At Barnes & Fersten, our criminal defense lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced in all aspects of Tennessee marijuana law. We understand the challenges faced by individuals who find themselves facing criminal charges for cannabis offenses and will fight diligently on your behalf. If you need assistance with any type of cannabis related criminal matter, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
Attorney At Law, Managing Partner
Brandon D. Fersten is an esteemed Knoxville attorney practicing DUI, criminal defense, and juvenile law. Known for his empathetic approach and commitment to his clients, he brings a record of favorable case outcomes including dismissals and not guilty verdicts at jury trials resulting in Brandon being recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Criminal Defense, U.S. News’ Best Lawyers: “Ones to Watch,” and Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars”. Brandon’s professional accolades, combined with his passion for justice, position him as a reliable criminal defense advocate in the East Tennessee legal landscape.