It should come as no surprise to anyone that marijuana is already legal in many states.

The argument has been going around the internet that Delta-8 THC is a terrible drug and should be banned from the federal level, but at the state level. I do not support this. Delta-8 THC should not be banned. I will try to explain why here.

Delta-8 THC, a natural cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, is both the hottest new product in the cannabis industry and the newest fad in the industry.

Every day a new article appears raising concerns about the legality of Delta-8 and accusing those who manufacture and sell it of compromising consumer safety. In fact, more than 15 states have banned Delta-8 entirely, but what’s most shocking about these bans is that many cannabis business leaders support them.

I have been a cannabis veteran for 13 years and a Delta 8 product manufacturer. I can assure you that I and many other ethical people care deeply about consumer safety and want these products studied, tested and regulated. So I ask my colleagues in the industry not to panic about Delta-8. I think Delta-8 fills a real need and the demand is a much needed boost for the struggling cannabis industry.

Banning Delta-8 would not protect public safety. Our industry, more than any other, should know that prohibition never works. This creates illegal markets, gives more power to unscrupulous operators and puts consumers at risk. We can do better.

Delta-8 makes people unhappy

The controversy surrounding Delta-8 stems from its strong resemblance to its state-banned parent, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as Delta-9-THC or THC for short. Although the psychoactive properties of THC often interfere with its many important medical uses, THC is best known as the substance in cannabis that gets consumers high. Although Delta 8 occurs naturally in hemp and cannabis, it is much easier to extract from CBD hemp isolate. The molecular structure of delta-8-THC differs slightly from that of delta-9-THC, but this is a crucial difference, both legally and in terms of effects on consumers.

Let’s take a look at the four most common arguments for banning Delta 8 and why they don’t hold up.

Argument 1: Illegal Delta-8

Critics accuse Delta 8 sellers of using loopholes to sell an illegal cannabinoid.

Reality: The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and all hemp-derived cannabinoids, including Delta 8 of hemp. Although the Drug Enforcement Administration’s statements have caused confusion, there is still a strong legal argument for the legality of Delta 8. Like CBD, it falls into a grey area in terms of regulation – but no one is pushing for a ban on CBD. As with CBD, the solution to Delta 8’s complicated legal status should be clarification, not prohibition.

Argument #2: Delta-8 should be banned as an intoxicant

Delta 8’s critics argue that CBD’s confusing legal status is irrelevant because CBD is not an intoxicant.

Reality: Delta-8 certainly has intoxicating properties, but one of the reasons for its popularity is that it has far less psychoactive power than THC. A recent article in Discover magazine reports that many consumers consider Delta 8 to be a milder, less disruptive psychoactive experience than the more familiar Delta 9.

Yes, some people use Delta 8 to feel euphoria. So what? It is likely to relieve stress, reduce pain and improve sleep. Some cannabis industry advocates see the use of cannabis as a moral violation, but I contend that Delta 8 fills an important need, as it falls right between the non-intoxicating CBD and the potentially suppressive effects of THC.

Patients who want the many documented health benefits of THC (better sleep, pain relief) often don’t use it because of its less pleasant side effects, such as anxiety. As Harvard Medical School member Dr. Peter Greenspoon told Insider, I can’t tell you how many patients tell me: I would love to use medical cannabis instead of opiates for pain management, but it scares me. Delta-8 can be a very good option for these people.

Argument No 3: Delta-8 never investigated

In the absence of solid clinical studies on Delta-8, we don’t know enough and therefore it should be banned.

Reality: We urgently need more clinical trials with Delta-8, as well as clinical trials with CBD and THC. But available research shows that Delta-8 has similar properties to THC, but with less psychoactive properties. The National Cancer Institute describes Delta 8 as a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) analogue with anti-emetic, anxiolytic, appetite stimulating, analgesic and neuroprotective properties. A 1996 study of children with cancer found that Delta 8 completely eliminated chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in children without side effects. The answer to questions about Delta 8’s properties should be more research – prohibition, but it’s not.

Argument 4: Banning Delta-8 will discourage people from using it.

Reality: Banning the substance does not end the demand. Delta-8 already enjoys great popularity; last year, retailers across the country sold at least $10 million worth of Delta-8 products. The question will remain, despite all the government bans – the horse has long been out of the barn. When states ban Delta-8, malicious people simply meet the demand for products through the illegal market, without safety standards, testing, or oversight. Of all industries, the cannabis industry should know how a story like this ends.
Suppose we give in to moral panic and ban Delta-8 across the country. There are at least 144 known cannabinoids. Do we really want to propose separate state and federal laws for over 140 different plant substances? (We are already hearing rumors of Delta 10).

State cannabis regulators and cannabis industry leaders can set quality and safety standards for Delta 8. As an industry, we can encourage consumers to purchase Delta 8 only from vendors who publish third-party test results confirming the content, safety and strength of their products. Let’s work together to educate consumers, ensure that products meet rigorous testing standards and regulate Delta-8 responsibly. As history has repeatedly shown, prohibition will accomplish none of this.

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