We told you back in August all about the recent expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Program (CUP), and how there has never been a better time to get a Texas Marijuana Card.
We were so excited about the good news of the expansion that we overlooked one of the bill’s shortcomings (beyond the fact that the Senate had watered down the expansion bill that the House had sent them).
Up until the last minute, the CUP expansion bill was supposed to include regulations banning the sale and possession of Delta-8 THC, an odd cousin of traditional THC that has milder known effects. Milder or not, questions remain about the long-term safety and the medical effectiveness of Delta-8 THC, which is why fifteen states have moved to ban it despite the fact that it remains legal at the federal level thanks to a legislative loophole.
For now Delta-8 remains legal in Texas, but some are whispering that regulations may still be forthcoming, and we here at Texas Marijuana Card think it would probably be a good idea if they were.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is very similar to “normal” THC, or delta-9 THC, the primary active ingredient of marijuana. According to Popular Science, the two look the same at the molecular level and delta-8 THC even has similar, but milder effects on users—or at least the effects are similar based on the most current research.
The primary difference between the two forms of THC is how they’re produced. Delta-9 THC is found naturally in marijuana plants, whereas delta-8 is obtained from hemp, a variety of cannabis that is bred without THC and used primarily in manufacturing.
While hemp cannot legally contain THC, it can contain cannabidiol, or CBD. Most of the delta-8 that is commercially available is synthesized by using a number of chemicals to alter CBD taken from hemp.
Legal Loophole means Delta-8 is Legal Federally when Natural THC Isn’t
Because of the many industrial uses for hemp, and because it contains little to no THC, Congress voted in 2018 to remove hemp’s controlled substance designation. That meant that pretty much all hemp products with less than .3% THC content were now legal, and that in turn meant that products derived from hemp, like CBD and delta-8, were also legal.
The legalization of CBD resulted in a flood of CBD products on store shelves nationwide since 2018, and now that the code for synthesizing delta-8 has been cracked, we’re seeing a similar deluge of commercially available products containing THC’s synthetic cousin.
And while some might say that widely available and accessible THC just means more options for people suffering from conditions that have been excluded from Texas’ notoriously strict medical marijuana program, there are some red flags when it comes to delta-8.
What Are You Really Buying When You Buy Delta-8?
So delta-8 is legal federally and in Texas, but is it safe? To quote Brandt from The Big Lebowski, “Well Dude, we just don’t know.”
Not only has delta-8 undergone very little scientific research, but because it is an unregulated product, unlike medical marijuana, consumers can’t always be sure of what they’re getting.
A Problem in Texas and Beyond
The U.S. Cannabis Council, a trade group for medical and adult-use marijuana companies, examined several delta-8 products earlier this year, releasing their findings in a report this past June. The Council concluded that the lack of regulation for delta-8 products “presents a public health risk.”
As part of its report, the Council used a private lab to test 16 delta-8 products purchased legally in several states, including Texas. The results showed that all but one of the products contained illegal levels of delta-9 THC, and a few of the samples contained heavy metals.
Critics of the report pointed out that it was compiled by a group that stood to profit if it didn’t have to compete with unregulated delta-8 products, but the group’s findings mirrored similar research performed by journalists, and the council’s concerns have been echoed by experts.
Lack of Regulation Means Lack of Certainty as to the Safety of Your Medicine
As Daniele Piomelli, director of the University of California, Irvine, Center for the Study of Cannabis, told NBC News, “Whenever you are looking at one of these derived compounds, you have to ask yourself how it was extracted from a plant.”
The delta-8 extraction process uses solvents like dichloromethane, which emits dangerous fumes when heated. In an unregulated market, processors are more likely to leave these chemicals in the products they sell.
“In order for a compound to be administered, it has to be mixed with other compounds to be taken via mouth or inhaled. If you are taking an FDA-approved drug, all those chemicals are approved,” Piomelli said. “But if this operation is run in a lab somewhere else, you really don’t know what is happening.”
So You Could Use Delta-8, but Should You Use Delta-8?
Yes, delta-8 is legal in Texas, but does that mean you should use it?
The unregulated market for delta-8 products means you can’t be sure of what you’re getting, even if scientists were confident that this new form of THC is safe. But as Popular Science warns, science isn’t sure about cannabis’ synthetic cousin, because there has been little evidence found thus far to show that delta-8 is beneficial, or even just that it’s not harmful.
They recommend waiting for more research, or at least only buying delta-8 products that certify they’ve been tested and verified by an independent laboratory.
Or, Popular Science says, “If you’re in a state that has legalized marijuana, you should buy delta-8 through a licensed store. (Or you could just buy marijuana. Your call.)”
You Know, You Live in Texas. You Could Just Buy Marijuana
Fortunately you live in Texas, where you can buy THC in its natural form, proven form. Or at least you can if you have a Texas Marijuana Card.
Using approved medical marijuana gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your medicine is being administered to you under a doctor’s care and under the watchful eye of the state, so that you can rest assured that the product you’re buying is safe and effective.
If you haven’t taken a look yet at whether medical marijuana might be right for you, why wait? There has never been a better time to look into getting your marijuana card, what with recent expansion of CUP and the flood of shady, untested products that have been washing up on the shelves of Texas stores.
Reserve an evaluation today with one of our compassionate, knowledgeable doctors, and we’ll make an appointment for you just as soon as we’re cleared to do so. Not only that, but you’ll save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!
You and your new doctor will discuss your condition and treatment options virtually using your computer or smartphone for a telemedicine appointment. Without even leaving your home, you can find out if medical marijuana might bring you the relief you’ve been seeking. You'll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.