Some states are rushing to ban Delta-8, the popular new “diet cannabis” option for people who want a less heavy psychoactive effect. But instead of banning Delta-8 products from the shelves, Hawaii has moved to make all smokable hemp illegal.
Not all smokable hemp contains enough Delta-8 to create impairment. Delta-8 is present in every kind of cannabis plant, from hemp to marijuana (Delta-9-THC). Some popular raw hemp products include vapor oils, pre-rolls, concentrates (yep, you can dab CBD), and edibles.
Smokable hemp is a path to smoking cessation for some Americans. If you are going to smoke something, make it healthier and a cigarette with 5,000 different carcinogens. So, a blanket ban on all smokable hemp products in Hawaii is surprising. And it seems like a gross overreaction to the increasing popularity of Delta-8-THC.
Ganjapreneur reported that regulators in Hawaii banned CBD gummies, beverages, and all smokable hemp products, including vape liquid. But CBD will still be available in the form of tablets, capsules, powders, and tinctures. Topicals, soaps, and shampoos will remain legal to produce and sell.
Legalized Hemp Creates More Confusion About Cannabis
It’s hemp, but it acts like THC. That is one of the best ways to describe Delta-8 THC products. They are hemp-derived. Formulated and processed 100% from hemp plants. Which, according to the 2018 Farm Bill signed by former President Donald Trump, is legal.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill, it has been legal to grow hemp, process it, and sell hemp products. Without fear of prosecution, because technically, it’s still cannabis. But the caveat for legal hemp now is a 0.30% limit. Any hemp above that limit is deemed to be marijuana and federally prohibited.
Things get tricky when you consider that you can get high from Delta-8. But legally, anyone can grow it. If you have land, you can grow hemp. You can sell that hemp to a processor that wants to make Delta-8 products (supplements, gummies, smokables, etc.).
Unless you live in a state that has banned the cultivation of hemp or the sale of smokable hemp products, it’s legal. The government said so. And because it is legal, easy to grow, and accessible to grow (no pesky licensing red-tape like growing cannabis).
You can also buy it online and have it shipped to you. Because again, technically, it is hemp. It’s just hemp that can get you high. Does the fact that you can get a mild happy buzz from Delta-8-THC make it not count as hemp?
What is Delta-8, and Why Do People Smoke It?
There is Coke, and then there is Diet Coke. They are essentially from the same product family, but Coke is the full-strength formulation. And Diet Coke, the lighter version. That is one of the best ways to compare cannabis with Delta-8.
Some people do not want a strong psychoactive effect when they consume cannabis. Patients may want a certain level of pain relief while remaining alert. Avoiding grogginess is a bonus. Who wants to feel sleepy all day? Or stare into the open door of a fridge and have those fuzzy mental-pause moments you can get after smoking weed.
Delta-8 is extracted from hemp. It has similar chemical structures compared to Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the active compound in the cannabis you buy at a dispensary. In marijuana, Delta-9 is found in ‘high’ concentrations. But people call Delta-8 “marijuana light” or “diet cannabis.” The impact of psychoactive effects of Delta-8 is milder, with a lower chance of paranoia and drowsiness.
How is Delta-8 Extracted and Made?
Is it a synthetic THC? Or is Delta-8 natural? It depends on the products you buy. And that is one of the reasons why Delta-8 makes state cannabis regulators a little nervous. Because if it is naturally derived, it might be okay, but if the extraction process involves adding other chemicals, it may not be safe to consume.
Typically, Delta-8 products start as a CBD extraction. Hemp is processed to remove the cannabidiol content. Then, most processors add glacial acetic acid. This dissolves the CBD over an average period of 72-hours. What is left behind after that process is about 80% Delta-8 THC content.
But that is not the only way that Delta-8 can be consumed or prepared. Now, there are strains of ‘designer weed’ that are not quite marijuana. But not hemp. They are Delta-8 strains that provide that “light buzz” and can help with mild pain or anxiety relief without feeling groggy.
Why Are States Banning Delta-8? Health Concerns or Politics?
The official story from states that are banning or have banned Delta-8 is the health angle. Because of being a controlled substance, researchers don’t know everything there is to know about cannabis. There are not many long-term studies. And health experts know even less about Delta-8.
Some of the documented side-effects have some state health officials concerned about Delta-8. Preliminary data suggests that using Delta-8, you could experience some of the following side-effects and symptoms:
Confusion and anxiety
Slowed or accelerated heart rate
Low blood pressure
Preparations of Delta-8 in vape oil, for example, are not monitored by the FDA. Because technically, any CBD in a consumable is illegal per the Food and Drug Administration. Like nicotine vaping products, some brands of Delta-8 could contain additional synthetic cannabinoid additives. Or propellants known to cause respiratory damage, like propylene glycol.
Some people think that the reaction to ban Delta-8 products at the state level is economically motivated. Products (particularly gummy edibles and smokables) that contain Delta-8 as the single psychoactive ingredient are popular. One study by New Frontier Data estimated that retail sales of Delta-8 THC products exceeded $10 million in 2020.
If consumers prefer ‘weed light’ with Delta-8, states may be in trouble. There are no licenses required to grow it now. No special permits and no annual license fees that have to be paid to the state. It’s a crop like any other. Cultivators can cash in without the regulatory red tape. And so can processors and product manufacturers.
Big Alcohol is Also Nervous About Delta-THC-8
Some people have described consuming Delta-8 as having an alcoholic drink or two. Not a Jager bomb or anything like hard liquor. Just a mild and pleasant elevation from normal leaves you happier, more relaxed, and fully functional. And if you have chronic pain, it could help lower your discomfort level a few notches on the pain scale to make it more comfortable.
Science has already told us that alcohol impedes our health. Whether we drink a little or a lot, the body processes alcohol as a toxin. It can damage your liver, kidneys and it is the leading cause of esophageal and gastrointestinal cancers. Whether you like it or not, your body doesn’t like booze. And it’s bad for your health.
What if you could go to your local store and pick up a six-pack of something that tastes exactly like beer. But instead of alcohol being the psychoactive substance, it was Delta-8-THC instead? Delta-8 adult beverages could put a big dent in the beverage industry.
Hawaii Nips Smokable Hemp in the Bud
Regulators in Hawaii seem concerned about hemp being a ‘loose cannon’ in terms of potency. While the legislation bans smokable varieties, it also increased the testing requirements for CBD products.
The Hawaii Hemp Processor Registry chapters 11-37 (administrative rules), and chapter 328G (Hawaii revised statutes, Act 14 SLH 2020) were updated on August 9, 2021.
The following products will not be legal to produce or buy in Hawaii:
Hemp products with Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) above 0.3%.
Hemp-containing products intended to be consumed orally in a form other than tablet, capsule, powder, softgel, gelcap, or liquid form (e.g., hemp oil). Gummies are not allowed.
Foods and beverages (including bottled water) containing hemp derivatives like CBD and other cannabinoids.
Cannabinoid-containing products intended to be aerosolized and inhaled (i.e., vape liquids containing cannabinoids).
Hemp flower material, hemp leaf, hemp cigarettes, etc. intended to be smoked or inhaled.
Hemp-containing products that are intended to be introduced into the body via eyes, ears, nasal cavities, and other non-oral routes of entry.