Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division has effectively banned hemp-derived THC isomers, including the popular delta-8 THC. The state’s Department of Public Health and Environment has also issued a statement regarding the chemically modified cannabinoids, casting doubt on the safety of the compounds.
Delta-8 THC & Other Hemp-Derived Isomers Banned in Colorado
On Friday the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a notice, clarifying state officials’ stance on chemically modified tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) isomers.
“Chemically modifying or converting any naturally occurring cannabinoids from industrial hemp is non-compliant with the statutory definition of ‘industrial hemp product’,” read the department’s statement.
A lack of federal guidance regarding the regulation of hemp-derived products following 2018’s Farm Bill has led to a booming market of CBD products, and now – chemically modified cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC. Compounds like delta-8 are created by extracting CBD from industrial hemp, then using a solvent-acid combination to convert the CBD into a form of THC, the psychotropic substance found in cannabis.
Delta-8 has quickly gained popularity due to its vast similarities to typical THC, resulting in the same feelings of euphoria and relief, albeit at a less potent level. Due to its wide availability – often being sold in gas stations and smoke shops rather than just dispensaries – the hemp-derived compound has taken the market by storm over the past year.
“From seemingly out of nowhere, sales of Delta-8 have grown quickly, exceeding receipts worth $10 million dollars in 2020,” wrote Trevor Yahn-Grode, a data analyst for New Frontier Data.
However, regulators in Colorado have brought up uncertainties surrounding the methods used to produce THC isomers.
“Insufficient evidence exists to determine whether or not any toxic or otherwise harmful substances are produced during these reactions and may remain in the regulated industrial hemp products ingested or applied/used by consumers. Therefore, these tetrahydrocannabinol isomers are not allowed in food, dietary supplements or cosmetics,” the department ruled.
With that, Colorado joins Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island and Utah in blocking delta-8 sales. In the meantime, large cannabis companies continue pumping millions into the research and production of other minor cannabinoids, hoping that delta-8’s issues with legality don’t jeopardize new consumable hemp products.
“My big concern for this whole thing is that they start lumping all converted cannabinoids with delta-8, and delta-8 drags the whole industry down with it,” said Kyle Ray, the COO at Colorado Chromatography – a leading producer of pharmaceutical grade minor cannabinoids.
Delta-8 THC and other hemp-derived compounds are facing mounting opposition at the federal level as well, with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently listing delta-8 as a controlled substance due to its method of manufacturing. In response, the Hemp Industries Association – representing over 300 hemp processors across the U.S. – is pursuing legal action against the DEA.
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