What Is Delta-8 THC? 

Delta-8 THC (commonly referred to as simply “Delta-8”) is a minor cannabinoid that naturally occurs in the cannabis plant. It has recently gained popularity as an alternative to Delta-9 THC (usually referred to as “Delta-9”) because it’s intoxicating effects are less potent and it is generally a milder option for both new and experienced cannabis consumers. 

How Is Delta-8 THC Different from Delta-9 THC? 

Delta-9 is a major cannabinoid that can be extracted easily and cheaply from the cannabis plant due to its general abundance. Typically, Delta-9 is taken from the marijuana plant, and used to produce an intoxicating “high” effect in its users. 

Delta-8, on the other hand, is a minor cannabinoid that is scarce within the cannabis plant. Therefore, natural extraction methods are complex, expensive, and generally not profitable. Delta-8 can also be used to achieve a “high” effect, but it is about half to one-third as potent as Delta-9, making it a good option for those new to cannabis use or for those who want a less psychoactive experience. 

How Is Delta-8 THC Produced? 

In recent years, there has been a breakthrough in the production of Delta-8. It was discovered that, rather than extracting it directly from the cannabis plant, it could be synthesized from CBD through the use of solvents. 

This innovation allowed Delta-8 to become more widely available, as well as in a gray area of federal legality; rather than being extracted from the cannabis plant like Delta-9, it now comes mostly from industrial hemp (which was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill) and contains less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. 

So Why Is Delta-8 THC Illegal In Colorado? 

The Colorado State Senate passed a bill (14-184) that outlawed the chemical alteration of naturally occurring cannabinoids and the state’s Health Department echoed the sentiment that these chemically modified products were non-compliant with the legalized category of “industrial hemp.” 

Because most Delta-8 is chemically derived from CBD, it was a huge blow for manufacturers. The state justified their actions on the grounds of the potential health risks of chemical contaminants from the extraction process. According to Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Department, they needed more evidence that no toxic substances were produced when synthesizing Delta-8 from industrial hemp. 

While the laws in Colorado don’t target Delta-8 specifically, it is one of the most affected products.

Dispensaries in Colorado can still sell CBD and naturally produced cannabinoids; however, any and all synthetic products or products produced with a chemical process are considered to be illegal. 

What Is the Federal Status of Delta-8 THC? 

Delta-8 is produced from CBD, which is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill as long as it is produced from industrial hemp and contains less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. However, because it is synthetically produced and not a natural extract from industrial hemp, the Drug Enforcement Agency considers Delta-8 to be a controlled substance. 

Like Colorado, many states are beginning to enforce regulations against Delta-8 as well, which either restricts or bans it’s sale entirely.