The Texas Department of Health added Delta-8 products to its controlled substances list this week, prompting some sellers to ditch gums and tinctures.
SAN ANTONIO – Stash CBD stocks were thinner Thursday after owner Ruben Mendoza threw away his Delta-8 cannabis products last weekend.
“Everything had to be subtracted,” Mendoza said, adding that Delta-8 items accounted for about 30% of its sales.
The Texas Department of State Health Services added the compound to its list of controlled substances last weekend, which includes heroin and LSD.
Texas offered Mendoza no advance warning or time to prepare, he said.
“It looks like we need to push more CBD products and figure out how to fill the gaps in my line of products,” he said.
Delta-8 is a strain of THC, an intoxicating chemical found in cannabis plants. It’s not as potent as Delta-9 THC, the psychoactive ingredient most commonly associated with marijuana.
Although chemically similar, the two strains of THC have a double bond on different carbons within their molecular chains.
Texans bought the compound, often in the form of gummy bears, tinctures, or raw flowers, to help relieve anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Some bought Delta-8 simply to get a mild high.
“It will relax you,” Mendoza said, anecdotally noting that delta-8-THC is less likely than delta-9-THC to induce paranoia or anxiety.
But the legal status of Delta-8 was never entirely clear.
With the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp and its products were removed from the list of state-controlled substances. The law defines legal hemp as a cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.
Since the bill didn’t directly address Delta-8, sellers like Mendoza believed it would be technically legal to sell and own the compound in any potency.
The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency made matters darker when it announced that synthetically-derived THC would remain illegal. Delta-8 occurs naturally in small amounts in the hemp plant, but is mostly synthesized in laboratories.
If not impossible, it would be tedious for law enforcement and public health officials to determine whether a Delta-8 product is organic or synthetic. Instead, Texas imposed an outright ban on the site.
The state health department claims that possession of the compound was never legal in Texas, only the rule in plain English this week.
A person caught in Texas with Delta-8 products can be jailed for two years and fined up to $ 10,000.
But local law enforcement agencies need to decide how seriously to treat law enforcement, as the ban is enshrined in Ministry of Health policy, not state law.
Legislators had an option to lock down Delta-8 ownership earlier this year and could not arrange to do so. Health Department officials told lawmakers that they already believed the connection to be illegal.
A number of “cannibusiness” groups are already planning to sue the state to overturn the recently clarified rule. The state’s health department is not authorized to impose substance bans.
Last year, a judge ruled against the state in a similar case involving smokable hemp. These CBD products returned to store shelves shortly after the verdict.
“We’ve been through this before,” said Alex Abdul, who owns Mary Jane’s CBD pharmacy. He says he will keep selling Delta-8 until a judge makes a final decision.
“At the moment Delta 8 accounts for at least 50 percent of our sales. We rely on that, ”he said. “It’s almost as good as marijuana.”
Customers flocked to Abdul’s stores, he says, hoping to stock up on Delta-8 in case it gets harder to find.
“You buy in bulk,” he said. “We could run out of all of our products in the next 10 days.”