Frustration and confusion are high in the cannabis industry at the national level as products made by chemical modification of the cannabis plant are properly classified and regulated, including a method that creates a compound known as Delta 8.
This compound is advertised as “less high” than Delta-9-THC, a compound that is naturally created when the plant is ignited. (It is commonly referred to as THC, which is the compound that causes temporary mental and physical changes.)
Another common cannabis compound is CBD, often made from hemp, a cannabis product that is legally required to contain less than 0.03 percent THC. This allows it to be sold in more places outside of licensed cannabis stores.
When CBD hemp is converted to Delta 8, it can increase THC levels. It also creates a loophole in the law as it is still considered hemp and can be sold in places like convenience stores or in states that don’t allow cannabis.
At the time of going to press, 15 states have banned Delta 8 products out of concerns for consumer safety.
“The bottom line is that no one has any idea whether or not these synthetics are safe for the community,” said Micah Sherman, co-owner of Raven Grass, an artisanal cannabis grower in the Olympia area.
In Washington, Delta 8 products can also be found in licensed cannabis stores, sometimes in the form of vape cartridges.
Dane Warner, owner of Daring Farms in Kettle Falls, said he saw Delta 8 products even in states where marijuana is not legal, often in places like gas stations and smoke shops. He doesn’t think the situation is fair, especially with smaller cannabis growers who follow strict testing rules.
“The pain, time and effort that farmers have put into making a clean and safe product is deeply regrettable as the legalization of cannabis and its products has fallen to one of the lowest levels of a harmful substance that is cheap and sold everywhere, ”he said.
Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board has spent much of this year learning about Delta 8 and what role it can or should play in regulation.
In May, LCB employees issued a notice that they were considering initiating a rulemaking process for additives other than Delta 9.
In July, many from the cannabis community attended an LCB board meeting to discuss the issue. Many speakers testified to the potentially harmful effects of plastics and called for stricter rules. They also accused some processors of buying cheaper bulk hemp for Delta-8 uses outside the state system.
Jade Stefano, owner of Puffin Farms in Ellensburg, testified that Washington’s cannabis industry had strong sales last year, but the craft cannabis market has declined 30% since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
She said the saturation of the market with cheap synthesized THC could be the last straw breaking the back of Washington’s independent cannabis companies.
However, one of the speakers shared a different perspective. Blade Bolden, an extractor for Unicorn Farms that sells Delta-8 cartridges in licensed cannabis stores, stated that the company uses proper, legal methods to make this product and should not be penalized.
The LCB announced that an investigation against a license holder had been ongoing since June. Chairman David Postman stated at the meeting that he trusts the state investigation team, licensing department, legal counsel, and chemists and others working on the matter. He also did not want the board of directors to give a public opinion before the investigation was completed, which could result in legal liability.
In July, the LCB issued a statement clarifying that licensed cannabis processors are not allowed to convert CBD into Delta 9 THC. This would be seen as a violation of the Narcotics Act and a license violation. Licensed processors also cannot sell or buy a THC product that is not legally made by a licensed marijuana producer.
Plastic opponents say that it is not so much about economic competition as it is about the unknown.
Natural cannabis compounds like CBD, CBG and THC have a growing body of institutional research on their effects, but synthetic ones, being newer, have a lot less.
Clay Neidigh, owner and creator of Third Eye Organics, said he tried a D8 product to see what it is like. He said he was immediately faced with symptoms that nearly got him and two colleagues to the hospital. He had temporary jaw blockages, rapid tremors in his legs, and confusion after eating a D8 edible.
“I didn’t like the high or the buzz and immediately felt like something was wrong,” he said. “After being a huge cannabis supporter for years, this was a new reaction that terrified me and the other two with me who tried. I will never try that again, and it made me even more suspicious of edibles and new products that come onto the market, even in non-legal states. “
Neidigh was recently in Las Vegas where he was given several samples of D8, D9, and even a substance called THC-0, described as CBHG, and a terpene extracted from male pollen. He wanted to warn the public of reports that hemp or CBD buds were sprayed with synthetic compounds. Consumers should pay attention to CBD products with oily, brown and brownish substance.