Delta-8 THC, the synthetic, unregulated cousin of the natural THC found in cannabis has been banned in Texas, meaning your only legal option for accessing any form of THC is to get a Texas Marijuana Card.
And while delta-8 may be coming back to Texas stores if some disgruntled hemp shop owners have their way, we here at Texas Marijuana card think getting delta-8 off of the market was the right decision for the health of Texans.
Texas Marijuana Card Predicts the Banning of Delta 8 THC
We let you know back in September that delta-8 was probably on its way out of the Lone Star State, and now that has come to pass.
And then in October, the state Department of State Health Services made it official, announcing on their website that delta-8 was now officially a Schedule I substance, making it illegal in Texas.
Decision Follows Confusion Over Delta-8’s Status
KTBC, Austin’s Fox affiliate, reported that the health department’s decision follows what had been widespread confusion over the legality of delta-8.
That confusion stemmed from the fact that delta-8 is synthetically derived from ingredients that are legal, including hemp. 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.
The result is a synthetic chemical that can largely reproduce the psychoactive effects of natural THC. In other words, it gets users high.
And the result of a legally available source of a marijuana high without the need to get a Texas Marijuana Card had predictable results: Delta-8 exploded in popularity, despite questions about the safety of the substance.
In fact, the trade group Texas Hemp Growers estimates that the delta-8 market here sees more than $50 million in annual sales.
Some Fear the Economic Fallout of Banning Delta-8
Unsurprisingly, hemp growers and retailers have been vocal in their opposition to the decision, citing the economic damage they say it will do to their businesses, and to the state economy as a whole as a consequence.
“If I’m gonna shut down some stores, if I’m gonna lose some sales, I have to fire a couple of employees, a couple of hundred employees, as a matter of fact,” Ali Sheikhani told KHOU, Houston’s CBS affiliate. Sheikhani is the CEO of the Sheikhani Group, which owns 75 vape shops across the state. “Not just one, two, three, four, ten, and the unemployment is gonna go up. I’m not just talking about me at the moment. We have 5,000 plus stores all over in Texas who are selling Delta-8.”
“Sheikhani Group, we’ll survive somehow, but what’s gonna happen to other stores, other small businesses who took the loan from the bank?” Sheikhani said to KHOU. “How are they gonna survive, (a retailer) who has one store, two stores, three stores?”
Sheikhani is suing the state over the delta-8 ban. His lawyer, Michelle Donovan, raised concerns to KHOU about unintended consequences other than the impact on small business owners.
“Obviously it’s a tax revenue that will be lost, and most importantly, where do these products go?” said Donovan. “To the black market?”
Lost Tax Revenue May be Costly, but Leaving Delta-8 on Store Shelves May be Worse
I’m no lawyer, but I think delta-8 would fare poorly on the black market. If someone is going to illegally purchase THC rather than get a Texas Marijuana Card, wouldn’t they be more likely to illegally buy actual THC than the weird Frankenweed that is delta-8?
That said, the possible loss of employment and tax revenue is a thought to give one pause, or at least it is until one considers what we know - and don’t know - about delta-8. The fact of the matter is that although banning the substance may have unintended consequences for the state, leaving it legal may well be worse.
For one thing, delta-8 has been the subject of very little scientific research, which means we’re not exactly sure what the substance itself does to users.
Furthermore, because delta-8 was unregulated, Texas consumers couldn’t be sure exactly what they were getting when they purchased delta-8, so we’re talking about a substance with mysterious effects that was being sold with additional mystery ingredients.
Not Just a Problem in the Lone Star State, Delta-8 “Presents a Public Health Risk”
When the U.S. Cannabis Council, a trade group for medical and adult-use marijuana companies, examined several delta-8 products earlier this year, the group concluded that the lack of regulation for delta-8 products “presents a public health risk.”
The Council consulted with a private, independent lab to test 16 delta-8 products purchased in several different states, including Texas. The findings revealed that all but one of the products contained illegal levels of delta-9 THC, and a few of the samples contained heavy metals.
Some critics argued that these results shouldn’t be given much credence, because the U.S. Cannabis Council represents medical and adult-use marijuana companies who are in competition with retailers who sell delta-8 products. However, the group’s findings were similar to the results found by journalists who had conducted similar investigations, and the group’s concerns mirror those expressed by experts.
Don’t You Want to Know What You’re Putting in Your Body?
“Whenever you are looking at one of these derived compounds, you have to ask yourself how it was extracted from a plant,” Daniele Piomelli, director of the University of California, Irvine, Center for the Study of Cannabis, told NBC News when explaining her concerns about delta-8 products.
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 that 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.”
And 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. So when you put it all together, delta-8 is a mysterious substance with unknown effects that was being produced by companies who operated in secrecy, and who, in several known cases, were selling that mystery substance combined with some undisclosed ingredients. Looking at it that way, it’s no wonder that the state moved to protect its citizens from this potential danger.
Nor is it any wonder that Popular Science suggests sticking with natural marijuana: “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.)”
Psst! Hey, Buddy. Didjaknow Medical Marijuana is Legal in Texas?
Fortunately for you, you live in Texas, where you don’t need to rely on unregulated mystery medicine, whether it comes from a corner street dealer or a delta-8 product bought in a gas station.
When you use the well-regulated, scientifically-backed medical marijuana products you can buy in Texas dispensaries, you have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you’re buying, and exactly how well it has been shown to be safe and effective.
If you haven’t looked into medical marijuana yet, what are you waiting for? With the expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Program this year, more Texans than ever before can use medical marijuana to treat their qualifying conditions.
Reserve an evaluation today with one of our compassionate doctors, and begin the process of finding out if medical marijuana is right for you.
We’ll book a telemedicine appointment, where you and your new doctor can meet virtually over your smartphone or computer. You’ll learn how medical marijuana might help treat your qualifying condition from the comfort of your own home. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of the 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 the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.