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On Monday, a Texas state district court temporarily suspended a ban on delta-8-THC products, putting the cannabinoid in a legal gray-area once again.
Judge Jan Soifer granted a temporary injunction against a Texas rule that makes selling or possessing delta-8 products a felony. The injunction came at the request of Hometown Hero, an Austin-based CBD dispensary. Last October, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced delta-8-THC would be classified as a Schedule I drug under state law, effectively banning all sales statewide.
“I was very confused, as well as a bunch of other companies,” Christine Perez, owner of a CBD store in Austin, told the Texas Tribune in regard to the October ban. “I really have no idea why [the state] would try to ban it, or the timing of it. We didn’t hear anything about it from the state.”
Delta-8-THC is an isomer of delta-9-THC, the compound in cannabis known for its euphoric effects. Delta-8-THC extracts, however, don’t come from “marijuana,” but rather its party-pooping sibling, hemp. Hemp is mainly grown to produce CBD, a non-intoxicating compound. With a few simple lab tricks, CBD, which is federally legal, turns into delta-8-THC.
Delta-8-THC has become a rising star in America’s nascent cannabis industry. When hemp was removed from the US Controlled Substances Act in 2018, some hemp producers assumed delta-8 was fully legal, too, since it comes from hemp. However, unlike CBD, delta-8 can cause euphoria like delta-9, though most self-reports describe it as less potent than delta-9.
In fact, the controversy around delta-8 is so heated that even states which legalized weed — like Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and New York — banned it within the last year, as well. Not all states are following suit, as Louisiana regulators recently said they’d allow it in edible form.
As supposedly enlightened states take their cues from the prohibitionists of old, the US DEA, ironically, seems to be lightening up. Recent statements from DEA officials indicate the agency either doesn’t agree on whether delta-8 is banned at the federal level, or may soon take the position that delta-8 is legal.
However, delta-8’s federal legality wasn’t the focus of Texas’s temporary injunction. According to Judge Soifer’s Monday order, Texas regulators didn’t give business owners enough warning before enacting the ban. But DSHS claims that it did: In May, a DSHS official gave testimony at a public hearing stating that delta-8 would be outlawed. This reasoning by DSHS would only make sense if everyone in Texas followed every minute of every boring-ass public hearing. Anyway, the state is expected to appeal the court’s order.
“This is a strong first step in reaffirming the fact that Delta-8 is a legal cannabinoid in Texas,” Ben Meggs, a hemp business owner who is financially supporting a lawsuit against Texas’s delta-8 ban, said in a written statement, according to the Texas Tribune.
So, hey, Texans: You might wanna get in on that (sort of) legal high while you still can. After all, your state legislature has a raging hard-on for Big Government.