Whenever a new cannabis trend emerges, we tend to get the same reactions every time: excitement from consumers and industry stakeholders, followed by a wave of legislation trying to regulate or prohibit the new product. Typically, by the time a product gets on the radar of the general public, it’s already on its way to becoming illegal.
It happened with many cannabinoids and products already, most recently, Delta 8 THC. Despite the fact that it falls under a legislative loophole that makes it federally legal, technically; many states have completely outlawed its production and sale. And you might be inclined to assume that it’s only the most restrictive states taking these steps, but then you would be completely wrong. For example, some legal states including Colorado and Arizona don’t allow the possession or distribution of any products containing Delta 8 THC.
But we’re not here to talk about D8, today we’re discussing how this same exact dilemma is unfolding in the small but fast-growing Delta 10 THC market – which states are trying to ban this new cannabinoid?
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What is Delta 10 THC?
Following in the footsteps of many cannabis trends prior, Delta 10 THC was first noted in California, although in this case, the discovery was purely accidental. It all began when an Adelanto-based company called Fusion Farms bought some outdoor flower to manufacture concentrates. Because of the wildfire-prone climate in California, the biomass they purchased had been sprayed with fire retardant, although Fusion Farms believed the flower they were getting was pure.
Being unaware of the contamination, they continued with the extraction as planned but some unusual crystals began to form after the distillation process. These crystals had a completely different structure than previously observed cannabinoid crystals. After conducting some laboratory tests, it was determined that these crystals were most similar to CBC (cannabichromene), but still not an exact match. For several months, they continued testing this structure against all the known cannabinoids and no match was found.
Eventually, they found out that it was yet another variation of tetrahydrocannabinol, formed because of plant exposure to those fire retardants – dubbed Delta 10 THC. So basically, D10 is an artificial cannabinoid, formed by converting D9 or other cannabinoids using some type of chemical catalyst. In this case, it was fire retardant, but obviously that’s not something people want in their cannabis products, so companies are looking at various – greener – methods of creating Delta 10 THC.
In chemistry, “Delta” refers to the double bond in a compound’s molecular structure. Delta compounds have more electrons and interact with the body in different ways than single bond cannabinoids do. The variation between the Delta THC analogues comes down to where the double bond is located on their chain of carbon atoms. Delta 8 has this bond on the 8th carbon chain, Delta 9 on the 9th chain, and Delta 10 THC has the double bond on the 10th carbon chain. Although it seems miniscule, it makes a substantial difference.
Is it federally legal?
Although all tetrahydrocannabinols are supposed to be on the FDA’s list of Schedule 1 narcotics, some of them remain permissible on technicalities. In short, if the THC (regardless of which Delta) was extracted from legal hemp, or chemically converted from CBD or another legal cannabinoid, then the THC itself is LEGAL.
Since everything regarding Delta 10 THC specifically is a bit new, let’s once more take a look at Delta 8 for reference. Last year there was some controversy and confusion about whether Delta 8 would be added to the DEA’s list of controlled substances. Many in the industry believed it would be prohibited under the DEA’s Interim Final Ruling over “synthetically-derived” cannabinoids but, fortunately, this turned out not to be the case.
Although a few changes were made, the final result was this: if the end Delta 8 product is derived from hemp and has less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC, then it’s legal. The DEA does include Delta 8 THC on its list of controlled substances which was just updated in August 2020. But since the 2018 Farm Bill expressly exempts “tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp”, this means that any form of THC derived from hemp that falls within the already established limits will remain legal.
So yes, Delta 10 THC is federally legal… however, states can override federal laws if they choose to. It happens all the time with industries like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling. So, while Delta 10 may be federally legal, some states governments are already taking steps to ban the new THC.
What states are working on bans?
The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved a measure that would prohibit Delta 8 THC and Delta 10 THC, along with Delta 9 which is already illegal. The original intent of this bill was to regulate a new synthetic opioid, Tianeptine, by adding it to the state’s controlled substances list. The bill was amended by Republican Senator Arthur Orr who added the sections about THC at the very last minute.
The Alabama Cannabis Industry Association starkly criticized the proposal in a blog post: “It’s premature to outlaw these potentially beneficial treatments for very serious conditions until research has been done. What we do know is that there have been no deaths attributed to delta-8-thc and cannabis is generally safer than even some over-the-counter medications. The Alabama Senate has the opportunity to regulate delta-8-thc and delta-10-thc in The Compassion Act so it is controlled but still accessible to people who will benefit from it in reducing suffering and improve quality of life.”
In North Dakota, not only did the Senate quickly shut down a bill that proposed legalizing cannabis, but a new bill that would outright ban the manufacture, sale and possession of ALL tetrahydrocannabinols (specifically Delta 8, 9, and 10) is quickly gaining traction. The governor has 10 days to sign the bill which would then go into effect immediately. If it passes (and it’s expected to), anyone found buying or selling products containing any type of THC could face criminal charges.
It’s hard to say what exactly will happen with Delta 10 THC on a national scale. So far, these are the only two states that I’ve heard of that are actively trying to ban Delta 10. It seems like a lot of wasted time and effort, considering anything with Delta 10 THC is difficult to find as it is, and all cannabis products will inevitably become legal in the very near future anyway (or at least we hope).
For now, the best thing you can do is stay up to date on your local news and laws, and make sure to stock up on your favorite products if you start hearing talk of new legislation.
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