The distinctive cannabinoid Delta-Eight divides the hashish extraction trade

(This story first appeared on Hemp Industry Daily.)

A rare cannabinoid that mimics the effects of delta-9-THC but is easily made from CBD is making headlines and delivering impressive profits to extractors battling falling prices for other hemp extracts.

But the popularity of the cannabinoid Delta-8 THC is creating sharp divisions on the marijuana and hemp side of the cannabis room.

Some say Delta-8 offers a great alternative for consumers looking for an intoxicating buzz but not the debilitating and anxiety that can come from some highly potent THC products.

(Delta-8 is an isomer of Delta-9-THC and appears to bind to cannabinoid receptors less easily, resulting in milder effects.)

However, others warn that Delta-8 is merely a demolition of the reality being promoted by unscrupulous extractors who want to outsource excess CBD and sell intoxicating products in countries with no legal access to Delta-9-THC.

And some fear that Delta-8’s popularity is threatening to undermine the hemp industry by alerting politicians who approved hemp and its extracts without realizing that some of those extracts could get people high by simply posting the one on YouTube follow widely used instructions.

It’s a situation where cannabis entrepreneurs are debating whether to join the Delta-8 platoon while it’s hot or stick to more common cannabinoids where legal status is better understood.

“It just started to start”

Longtime hemp extractors admit the Delta-8 trend took them by surprise. The isomer has long been understood as a weaker variant of the THC form that everyone is familiar with.

James Hurlston, CEO of Ratoon Agroprocessing in Marion, North Carolina, was surprised at the reaction he received on a social media post last year saying his lab made Delta-8 from a batch of CBD isolate .

“I just put it out – ‘Hey, we did it with Delta-8. Is anyone else doing that? ‘And the answer – oh my god! It just started to take off. “

Also surprised was Harold Jarboe, owner of Tennessee Homegrown, a Nashville-based company that grows hemp and makes CBD.

In response to customer demand, he started making Delta-8 from his CBD isolate last year. Now its Delta-8 is selling CBD.

“It’s the cannabinoid for its time,” he said of Delta-8 THC.

“We have heard this from our customers for years: ‘Do you have anything stronger?’ And (Delta-8) wasn’t really, really strong, but it was a little stronger, something that made the day a little easier. “

Jarboe then began selling Delta-8 products to customers with legal access to conventional THC products.

“You can do a whole lot (Delta-8 THC) to break down the edge. … But it doesn’t come at you the way Delta-9 can. “

Reduce excess

Customer response to Delta-8 isn’t the only reason CBD manufacturers are so excited. The wholesale value of the cannabinoid makes it almost impossible to resist.

Wholesale prices for Delta-8 range between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000 per kilogram, depending on volume and quality, several extractors told the Marihuana Business Daily. The prices were even higher last year.

This is comparable to wholesale CBD isolate prices, which have fallen to $ 600 per kilogram or less due to the abundance of supply.

Another appeal: the legal ambiguity of the cannabinoid makes it attractive to test sales in new markets and outlets that are not yet accessible to traditional THC manufacturers such as convenience stores.

Of course, legal opinions vary as to whether Delta-8-THC is legal when it comes from a hemp extract.

Some say Delta-8-THC is clear because hemp and all of its derivatives are legal.

Others point to a US Drug Enforcement Administration rule on THC levels in hemp processing that appears to make Delta-8-THC an illegal synthetic version of its better-known cousin Delta-9-THC.

At least one retailer, a smoker in South Texas, has been charged with drug crimes for selling delta-8-THC products made from hemp. (The case has not been resolved and the DEA rule is being challenged legally by the Hemp Industries Association.)

For Garrett Graff, attorney with the Hoban Law Group in Denver, the landscape looks very similar to the legal jungle of CBD in the beginning.

That’s because local law enforcement agencies have to weed out some mixed messages in federal law, resulting in spotty enforcement.

“It’s a complicated question,” Graff said of Delta-8’s legality. “There is a potential legal conflict that has not yet been resolved by a court.”

The future of Delta-8

The legal issues have some in the cannabis industry saying the clock is ticking on Delta-8.

Sean Santa, an investment banker in Bethesda, Maryland who helps cannabis companies raise capital, said Delta-8 products are jostling too often for consumers who prefer Delta-9-THC when they could get it.

“I think it’s a fad,” Santa said of Delta-8 products.

“Right now it has this niche because of the legal gray area. But when that is gone I think (Delta-8) will be wiped out completely. “

This legal gray area is sparking talks in Congress and in state houses about how to restrict the use of hemp undesirably, said Jonathan Miller, attorney for the US activist group Hemp Roundtable.

“Basically, legislators fear that the 2018 Farm Bill somehow opened a loophole for unregulated intoxicating products,” he said.

“And we’ve spoken to a lot of people in the marijuana industry. And they are upset that competitive products are being sold at gas stations with no regulation while going through pharmacies and having to adhere to some very strict regulations. “

Miller predicts a number of delta-8 THC limits suggested for adults even in marijuana states.

“Anything intoxicating should be treated like adult cannabis,” Miller said. “It shouldn’t be readily available unregulated at gas stations and vape shops.”

Delta-8 manufacturers say the product will find a place in the larger cannabis economy no matter how regulated.

“I don’t like Delta-9. I don’t like the fear, ”said Craig Henderson, CEO of Extract Labs in Boulder, Colorado.

“But I like relief from inflammation. I like to sleep better. I like a slight change in mood, maybe I feel a little better during the day.

“And there are a lot of people like me.”

Kristen Nichols can be contacted at [email protected].

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