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Delta-8 THC: What is it, and is it Legal in Alabama?
There has been a lot of chatter online and in the news about delta-8 THC, and you may have a lot of questions. Questions like “What is it,” “How does it compare to ‘normal’ THC,” “Is it legal in Alabama,” and “Will I need to get an Alabama Marijuana Card in order to buy it?”
In our ongoing effort to be your go-to source for news and information on all things medical marijuana related, we’ve put together this, your handy guide to delta-8 THC in Alabama. If you just want to cut to the chase, yes, delta-8 is legal in Alabama, at least for now, but does that mean it will stay legal? Or that you should use it if it does?
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is very similar to “normal” THC, or delta-9 THC, the primary active ingredient of marijuana. According to Popular Science, the two look the same at the molecular level and delta-8 THC even had similar, but milder effects on users—or at least the effects are similar based on the most current research.
The primary difference between the two forms of THC is how they’re produced. Delta-9 THC is found naturally in marijuana plants, whereas delta-8 is obtained from hemp, a variety of cannabis that is bred without THC and used primarily in manufacturing. While hemp cannot legally contain THC, it can contain cannabidiol, or CBD, and delta-8 THC is produced using CBD.
In 2018, Congress reclassified hemp so that it was no longer a controlled substance and gave the Food and Drug Administration responsibility for regulating it. This action more or less legalized all hemp products with less than .3% THC content, which meant CBD derived from hemp was largely legalized as well.
Legalization of hemp meant a product derived from it, CBD, was legal, and therefore ripe for commercial sales. Thus the deluge of CBD products that arrived in stores since 2018. Similarly, the legalization of hemp also meant that delta-8 THC, as a derivative of CBD, was legal, too, and so we’re seeing a wave of delta-8 edibles and oils hitting store shelves.
But is delta-8 really legal? And if so, will it be for long?
“A Legal Gray Area”
Because delta-8 THC is similar to but distinct from marijuana, and because it is derived from a product that is not classified as a controlled substance by the Federal government, it remains legal at the Federal level and in most states.
However, Popular Science reports that at least five states have taken steps to regulate delta-8, and many suspect that the Federal government may not be far behind. AS Popular Science puts it, delta-8 exists, “for the moment, in a legal gray area.”
While the Federal government has no laws restricting the sale and use of delta-8, a 1988 Federal law says that any substance that is largely chemically similar to a controlled substance is subject to the same regulations as the controlled substance.
And given that delta-8 and delta-9 are in fact largely chemically similar, and delta-9 (or plain old-fashioned marijuana) is illegal at the Federal level, one could assume that if the Federal government were the to try to prosecute the sale and use of delta-8, they could in fact legally do so. Not only that, but members of the marijuana industry say that sources tell them that the DEA is closely watching the proliferation of delta-8 products.
But - and here is where that gray area gets grayer - would any Federal regulations be likely to come in the form of prohibitions? In other words, delta-8 is an intoxicant, and so it’s likely the Federal government might want to: regulate where and how it can be used; pass legislation and regulations related to driving while under its influence; and take steps to prevent children from accessing it.
But is delta-8 likely to be banned at the Federal level? Or are Federal prosecutors likely to charge individual citizens for using it if it does?
While we cannot see the future, we think the answers to both questions are likely to be no. Federal prosecutors have been instructed not to waste resources prosecuting individuals and entities with marijuana-related charges when they are in compliance with their respective state laws. It doesn’t seem likely that they would then prosecute people for using a product on the grounds that it is similar to marijuana.
But we’re not out of the legal gray area yet.
States Take Action Against Delta-8 THC
A handful of states have taken steps to ban or regulate delta-8, and Alabama was nearly one of them.
According to the Alabama Political Reporter, in April the State Legislature banned tianeptine, a controversial antidepressant. Until the last minute, the State Senate’s version of the bill included an amendment also banning delta-8.
However, in the end that amendment was removed at the request of its author, State Senator Arthur Orr, of Decatur. Orr and several other legislators were thanked in a statement released by the Alabama Cannabis Industry Association for working with the group to kill the amendment, which they argued would be detrimental to the hemp industry in the state.
Senator Orr voted in April to kill an amendment that would ban a substance for its similarity to marijuana, and he would go on in May to vote against the passage of SB 46, Alabama’s medical marijuana law. So ultimately he decided that a substance being called “marijuana light” should have no regulation, but marijuana used under a doctor’s care should be outlawed.
So You Could Use Delta-8, but Should You Use Delta-8?
Yes, delta-8 is legal in Alabama, but does that mean you should use it?
As Popular Science reported, there are some compelling reasons why you might not want to, or why you might want to at least proceed with caution.
First, as delta-8 is unregulated, there is often little assurance of quality control in its production, or even of the accuracy of the ingredients listed on the labels of delta-8 products.
Varun Vohra, a toxicologist at Wayne State University, said “The issue is more that people don’t know what they’re buying.”
Popular Science recommends waiting until more research has been conducted, or at the very least only purchasing delta-8 products that offer proof that their contents have been tested and verified by an independent laboratory. Or, “If you’re in a state that has legalized marijuana, you should buy delta-8 through a licensed store. (Or you could just buy marijuana. Your call.)”
Until Science and the Law Have Reached a Consensus on Delta-8, You Could Just Buy Marijuana
Fortunately for you, you live in Alabama, and while our medical marijuana market isn’t here yet, it’s on the way. Soon, you’ll be able to buy THC in its natural form, with the piece of mind of knowing you’re under a doctor’s care and using a tested, proven product.
And while you can’t buy medical marijuana here just yet, there’s no reason you can’t get started on getting your Alabama Marijuana Card, so that you’ll be ready as soon as those dispensary doors open.
Schedule an evaluation with one of our highly-trained doctors today, and we’ll make an appointment for you just as soon as we’re cleared to do so. Not only that, but you’ll save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!