With states like New York opting to ban Delta-8 THC entirely (within weeks of legalizing cannabis), the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is speaking out against what it sees as an illogical new wave of cannabis prohibition.
The HIA, a trade association composed primarily of businesses and farms in the hemp industry, just released a statement, taking a stand on the hot new cannabinoid. And they’ve opted to take a stand that contrasts with many other hemp associations.
Delta-8 is a close cousin to the more prevalent Delta-9 THC. It offers a milder buzz, reportedly minus the anxiety and paranoia that some experience from Delta-9.
While Delta-8 does occur naturally in hemp, most hemp on the market does not contain enough Delta-8 (which is a minor cannabinoid) to be commercially viable. So most of it is created in a lab by molecularly modifying the more prolific CBD.
The fact that most Delta-8 is CBD-derived, rather than naturally occurring, combined with its psychoactive effects, has led to a lot of hand wringing on the part of the legal hemp industry and many state legislators.
Some of the questions being asked are worth consideration. Should Delta-8 be as widely available as CBD? Should minors have access? Should cannabinoids that are derived from CBD fall under the 2018 Hemp Act?
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) weighed in on the issue when it issued an interim final rule this fall stating that all synthetic cannabinoids are Schedule I narcotics and therefore illegal. Because most Delta-8 is not naturally occurring, most of it would fall into that category.
This isn’t just about one minor cannabinoid — the list is over a hundred already and growing.
But the HIA is fighting back.
“Businesses, farmers, and consumers all deserve regulations that support the exploration of the hemp plant’s full potential. This isn’t just about one minor cannabinoid —the list is over a hundred already and growing,” said Jody McGinness, HIA’s Executive Director.
“Fortunately, the industry has all the expertise legislators could need, and those manufacturing leaders and scientists are engaged and ready to help create productive policy solutions.”
The HIA’s Cannabinoids Council, a newly-formed member body focused on national priorities distinct to the cannabinoids sector of the hemp industry, is highlighting the importance of safe market expansion (rather than prohibition) as a core focus for its early efforts.
In summary, the organization maintains four main positions on Delta-9 THC:
- That the 2018 Farm Bill, which defined hemp to include its cannabinoids and all THCs from hemp, is the governing law for the hemp industry. Ergo, Delta-8 is legal.
- Natural cannabinoid consumption does not present public health and safety risks like those from alcohol and tobacco. The hemp industry needs a regulatory framework that prioritizes consumer safety while being grounded in science.
- Prohibition is a failed concept. The HIA calls on state lawmakers to eschew ineffective bans in favor of partnering with hemp industry experts to craft hemp policy that safely opens markets, fosters innovation, spurs investment, and creates valuable jobs.
- Industry leaders must build consumer confidence by adopting the highest quality and potency testing standards for Delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids – including transparent and detailed labeling, potency data, and warnings about consumption by minors.
As the news release states, The HIA’s stance on Delta-8 THC and other hemp-derived cannabinoids is in line with the organization’s history of “vigorously defending the legality of all hemp products, and supporting the growth of industries utilizing all parts of the hemp plant.”
Compare this approach, with its emphasis on the regulation of the entire hemp industry (rather than singling out specific cannabinoids as problematic) with that of the Hemp Roundtable, which has taken a much more negative approach to Delta-8 THC.
In a statement published in April, the organization declared that: “We are opposed to marketing products under the guise of hemp for their intoxicating effect.”
The Hemp Roundtable isn’t actually advocating a Delta-8 ban, but they do want to separate it completely from the rest of the hemp industry, “regulated akin to adult-use cannabis, and sold in dispensary-like settings away from minors.”
As it stands right now, states are taking a patchwork approach, resulting in a messy, various, and confusing situation. Some states are banning Delta-8 altogether while some states (like Oregon) are regulating it as a cannabis extract rather than a hemp extract. Other states are still undecided – and perhaps waiting for the DEA to act.
But the HIA isn’t waiting on the DEA. The organization has already initiated two lawsuits, taking the agency to task for the overreach of its interim rule. How this drama plays out will have wide-reaching implications for the entire hemp industry, not just sellers of Delta-8.