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THE GREAT DELTA-8 DEBATE

This year has been a wild ride for hemp, and cannabis in general in Texas and it’s not going to stop for a single moment.

Our 2021 year started off with a legislature that filed quite a few cannabis related bills in the House. Penalty reduction, medical cannabis, a hemp cleanup bill were the primary topics being pushed in the 87th regular session. Texas saw weak advancement on medical progress for cannabis, no penalty reduction measures signed off because of the desire to include delta-8 language, and the hemp cleanup bill failed for the exact same reason with even more debate on that delta-8 issue.

A committee hearing saw licensed hemp agencies and advocacy groups compared to cartels during hearings. Groups were visiting offices to prevent language designed to block delta-8 from inadvertently destroying the rest of the hemp market. And DSHS testified that they were under the presumption that delta-8 was illegal regardless of what the legislature did with the cleanup bill. Delta-8 was clearly all over the place and on most of the industry’s minds.

The majority of the industry moved forward after the regular session under the presumption that delta-8 avoided a death blow. Others had seen that DSHS was making their claim in the Senate committee hearing because they had held a hearing on the topic and practically nobody knew that it happened. That meeting was to review the controlled substances schedule of Texas to oppose the carved out exemptions. Their results were something that most industry talking heads and experts said, “flipped the definition of hemp on its head.”

There is definitely a problem with delta-8 in the industry and it’s not delta-8 itself that is the problem. Delta-8 is a result of failing to pass proper cannabis regulations while passing a hemp program with no cleanup bills federally or on a state level to address gaps in that program. Itself on its own is not a reason for danger. People creating products that they claim are delta-8, that are really delta-9 are an issue.

Think they aren’t? Wait until you have to be in front of a judge arguing that you were arrested for something that isn’t what is on the label and what was in the bottle is illegal in Texas, all while you can’t get a lawyer because it’s too expensive. People creating products that have byproducts in their extracts that are not conducive to healthy human living are also a problem. A CBD Oracle Lab Study article showed some Delta-8 products are 7700% over the legal delta-9 THC limit. That last sentence, google it and have your mind blown if you didn’t already know this.

Then the icing on the cake of these issues are lab results that have been falsified possibly by the product manufactures or another party down the line after lab tests were done. Products with metals in the original testing being eradicated from the lab result altogether, along with delta-9 thc being relabeled as delta-8 or completely removed from the results as well.Retailers using one lab COA for all of their products they ship and sell over the counter is another issue. A brownie should have its own COA, a gummy should have it’s own, and a tincture should have one as well that isn’t the same COA as the hemp product placed in the item. The item itself needs a COA, not just the substance infused into the product.

This still isn’t a need to remove delta-8 or any other THC isomer from the market. Removing it from the market is a knee jerk reaction, and one that shows no true thought was put into the decision. Elected officials can claim they have put lots of thought into this, but what does it mean if their thoughts are put aside for a few higher up figures, instead of representing their constituents?

What should the state of Texas do to set an example on how to wrangle this issue? Should we have labs that are audited by the state to ensure testing is done properly? Should we ensure that any product that is placed out for retail has a lab result from a Texas lab before it can be placed on shelves or sold to Texans if they have a physical location in state (we cannot do that to a product just passing through the state, as that would likely violate interstate commerce laws)? Should QR codes lead to a website presented database that is operated by the lab instead of the retailer or the wholesaler? How many counterfeit products could be weeded out of online systems and retail shelves that plan to sell to Texas residents?

This next legislative session we can expect to see varied interests coming out on all sides, including medical marijuana that are going to have input about this, and the hemp industry needs to be ready with answers and be ready to fight for their products. We are all in this together and we all need to push the industry forward together in a healthy and responsible fashion if we want this to work.

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