Just when you thought it was safe to use ‘cannabis lite’ products in Texas. Delta-8 was a nice caveat for people who wanted therapeutic cannabis for conditions like chronic pain, migraines, depression, anxiety, muscle spasms, and more.
Legal Delta-8 is past tense now. Because the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) just dropped the hammer. If a product has THC in it, then it is illegal in the Lonestar state. No exceptions. And guess what? Ordering Delta-8 online and having it delivered through the mail is now a felony offense.
So don’t do that anymore if you live in Texas.
The proposed ban will face some legal resistance. After all, in 2018, the Farm Bill made cannabis products with 0.30% THC federally legalized. And Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law on June 10, 2019.
House Bill 1325 legalized the growing of hemp in the state of Texas once more. And it hadn’t been legal to cultivate hemp since President Nixon added hemp to the Controlled Substances Act in 1969.
The ban will surprise many because Delta-8 has been sold as a popular (and legal) alternative in Texas. And getting the word out about the change in the legal status of Delta-8 in the state will help people avoid being charged with possession because Texas has decided to treat all types of THC with the same regulatory hate.
Delta-8 Made the Texan Medical Cannabis Program More Bearable
The medical marijuana program in Texas is far from compassionate. Said with a grudge because Texans can visit Oklahoma and see what an accommodating program looks like. Once you cross the border into Oklahoma, you can’t help but see dispensaries.
While hopeful about cannabis legal reform in Texas, time marches on for patients. For people who have debilitating chronic pain, the choices have been scant. Ask someone with chronic pain how much 1% THC helps reduce the symptoms. For most people, it is no help at all.
Thanks to Texan health regulators and the prohibitionist agenda in the Texas Senate, patients living in the state are really stuck. The options for pain management are prescription opioids or NSAIDs. Medications that can have terrible side effects and addiction potential. Or alcohol, frankly, if opioids are not an option.
Compassionate care is understanding that for some patients, pain management is a full-time job. Unrelenting symptoms that cause a lot of disruption to your social, financial, and professional life. On some days, all the ice-packs, elevating with pillows, supplemented with the recommended dose of pain medication isn’t enough. And you can find yourself unable to do the things you want (or need) to do because the pain consumes your mind and body.
Many Texans just discovered Delta-8 worked very well for pain management. And now, like they are back to the drawing board, trying to figure out how to use opioids safely (again) for pain management. Even though those alternatives like opioids could be the least safe option.
Penalty for Possession of THC Products In Texas
Time to clean out your cupboard and dispose of any Delta-8 products you have. Officially, that’s the safe way to do it. Because when it comes to penalties for THC, few states can compare to Texas.
The Delta-8 tincture that was legal is now a banned controlled substance. So is any product containing THC. And you know how Texas likes to throw the book at even minor drug infractions. They will treat Delta-8 possession (also sale and distribution for retail business owners) the same as Delta-9 marijuana. Or any other controlled substance.
The penalties for possession of a controlled substance in Texas haven’t changed much in an era where other states are decriminalizing cannabis. People living in Texas could face severe legal consequences for possessing THC in any form or potency.
Texas has established the following criminal penalties for controlled substance use, which now includes Delta-8 THC:
Possession of paraphernalia can result in a Class C misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine with no jail time.
Possession of up to two ounces of cannabis is a Class B misdemeanor. It can be mean 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Reform of cannabis penalties may be just around the corner in Texas; however, House Bill 441 received seven votes (ayes) in favor and one vote (nay) against. Texas State Representative Erin Zwiener drafted the bill. It would reduce the penalty for possessing one ounce of cannabis to a Class C misdemeanor. That would carry a fine of $500 and no jail time.
Do Texans Want to Legalize Cannabis?
It seems like most Texans are comfortable with the current prohibitive cannabis laws. Or at least historically, they have been. But that might be changing quickly, according to a new poll conducted this year by the University of Texas / Texas Tribune.
More than 60% of Texans stated that possession of cannabis should be legal. Only 13% of respondents said marijuana should not be legal under any circumstance, including medical use. And 27% of people polled said it should be for doctor-supervised use only.
Interestingly in Texas, the younger demographics are less in favor of cannabis legalization. For example, only 34% of adults aged 18-29 years would legalize marijuana possession in any quantity or amount.
The 30-44-year-old population segment was 69% in support of legalization. And adults 45-64 are 57% in support of expanding the current cannabis program in Texas. Seniors aged 65 and up were 53% in favor of legalization in Texas.
Could Delta-8 Demand Diminish CBD Sales?
There are some people who do not want any degree of psychoactive effects. But they want the potential medicinal benefits of cannabidiol. People who use CBD but no other type of cannabis report a number of benefits.
Cannabidiol (CBD) can be used to reduce symptoms of anxiety. It can have a calming effect, which can also help people with sleep problems, pain, and inflammation. The use of CBD is also higher in states that have not legalized medical or adult-use cannabis. For patients, CBD is the next best thing when THC products aren’t available.
Since December 2019, CBD products have been legal to purchase in Texas. Hemp-derived cannabidiol was both legalized by the 2018 Farm Act and by Gov. Abbott. But the potential for pain relief is minimal with CBD if the patient has moderate to severe chronic pain.
Sales of CBD products in the Lonestar state haven’t gone down. They have continued to grow. Texas pharmacies (that also dispense cannabis) have stocked CBD for patients since the summer of 2019.
If you are looking for someone to blame for the Delta-8 THC ban, it isn’t cannabidiol retailers or manufacturers. Demand in Texas is steady for high-quality CBD products partially because 1% THC doesn’t “do it” for most patients.
Stop the Ban of Delta-8 THC in Texas
Ready to roll up your sleeves and fight to keep Delta-8 a legal option in Texas? House Bill 3948 has been referred to a special committee to review. The legislation in HB 3948 has been inching through the Texas House of Representatives since March 2021.
Many politicians would like to see cannabis decriminalized in the state of Texas. And if you are thinking about blaming one party (the Republicans) for the THC ban, reconsider. The majority of politicians supporting HB 3948 are from the Texas Democratic Party.
House Bill 3948 would define penalties for the use of any hemp or THC product in Texas. Except those prescribed by a physician and with a maximum potency of 1% THC. The public servants responsible for the draft of HB 3948 were:
Rep. Tracy King (D)
Rep. Ryan Guillen (D)
Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D)
Rep. Eddie Morales (D)
Rep. Celia Israel (D)
Rep. Penny Morales Shaw (D)
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D)
Rep. Erin Zwiener (D)
Senator Charles Perry (R)
Senator Roland Gutierrez (D)
If you are a resident of Texas and would like to see Delta-8 products legalized, now is an excellent time to get involved. There is a petition for signatures to stop HB 3948 on Change.org.
It happened once in June 2021, where laws to ban Delta-8 were struck down, and Delta-8 remained legal as long as it was hemp-derived. It can be stopped again. Because as long as Texas has one of the most prohibitive medical cannabis programs, patients are suffering. And legalizing Delta-8 could help.
So would the tax revenues for a state that started the year with a $4 billion deficit from 2020.